My imaginings are something that I have always done – right from being a baby. I would scrunch my arms up tight near my head and tense my muscles, sometimes to the point of getting incredibly painful cramps in my legs or arms. To an outside observer this may have looked very painful or strange – one teacher in nursery told my parents she thought I had epilepsy and was having fits in class, but in my head I was creating stories. The best way to describe it I suppose is like having a film projector in my mind – things play out like films in my mind. I don’t have to close my eyes to see these, and I can still observe everything going on in the world at the same time. These aren’t simply creative thoughts – they are entire films, either live action or animation inside my mind. I create the characters, give them back-stories, choreograph fight scenes, and edit some of these things, all in my own mind. It is no wonder that there is some physical effect after doing all of that. I do these a lot less often now, but when I was young I had about five or six series of imaginings that I would go back to virtually every day. And when I say series, I mean every single one of these imaginings followed on from the one before it. I suppose they were really more like T.V. shows than films in that respect, because there was so many of them. There were casts of hundreds of characters and hours and hours of entertainment. Sometimes characters would cross-over, but that was never just random, I always found ways to weave the two worlds together in my head.
Music would always stimulate my imaginings more than anything else, but when I read I see everything described in the book as I am reading it, so it is as if I am watching a film at the same time as I am reading a book. I don’t know how many people do this, but with me it was never anything conscious, it just happened. I know a lot of autistic people have imaginings, but they might have their own names for them. For me they really highlight one of the most positive aspects of autism; heightened creativity and imagination. Now a lot of people will tell you that all autistic individuals are boring people who can’t think outside of a certain small set of rules, and have no real creativity, but this simply isn’t true at all. I think mine, and other people`s imaginings are a great example of this, and on a personal level, I have been writing since I was eleven years old. The two books I have published are both books about autism (these can be purchased here http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762 ) I have also been writing fantasy and horror novels from a young age and hope to get one of these published sometime soon. Every single one of those books started out as an imagining in my head first before taking shape on the page.
I know that not all autistic people have imaginings and others may experience them differently, or have different outward physical signs than I do, but I do know that the hand and arm scrunching and muscle tensing is fairly common. My advice would be not to worry about it. Obviously if you are autistic or have an autistic child it is best not to do those things out in public when everybody is watching, but overall I would try to see imaginings as a very positive thing. Certainly for me, I don’t know where any ideas for books would have come from if it wasn’t for my imaginings.
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