CW: internalized ableism, childhood experiences (both positive and negative)
When I was in early elementary school we had just moved into a bigger house and there was a room without any furniture in it aside from a dining chair in one corner. I’d sit in that corner chair nearly every day after school because I’d unknowingly been naughty.
I could never tell my parents how I’d been naughty, which of course added to my apparent need for punishment. Clearly I was being willfully insubordinate by refusing to explain how I’d been bad and why I was sorry.
At the time I had no way of knowing that other people could communicate those things somewhat reliably and could even understand why other people reacted to them the way they did.
Instead I internalized that I was a “bad, mean child” who should “know what [I’d] done!” without being told and despite the very clear (to me) evidence that I had no earthly idea what on earth anyone was going on about. I tried to be nice to people, I tried to stay out of people’s way, I tried to blend in.
But I always ended up back in that chair. Somehow.
While sitting in it I would lean my head back all the way over the back and look at the ceiling – imagining what it would be like if I could live on the ceiling. When I later read the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books I was thrilled to discover that I wasn’t the only one who’d fantasized about a house being upside-down, running about between the chandeliers and jumping over the tops (now bottoms) of the door frames!
Of course, being empty, this room drew my attention despite the somewhat negative associations with my corner chair. I made my own fun while sitting in it, but it was supposed to be a punishment and I dreaded the talks we had while I was sitting in the chair. The, “You know what you did, so tell me.” talks on which hinged my eventual freedom from the chair.
During the times when I wasn’t in the chair I would spend my time in that room spinning and spinning. My mother made the most perfect triangles on the carpet with the vacuum cleaner and I’d stare at them – alternating dark and light – once I’d fallen on the floor and the room had stopped spinning around me.
Eventually she taught me how to make perfect triangles in the carpet too. This was with our old vacuum cleaner, before they got the new big scary one.
Overall, I loved that room. The things I remember most about it are how it looked upside-down, how much lovely room for spinning there was, and those delightful carpet triangles ❤
2 thoughts on “Flashback Friday – My Spinning Room”
I liked the Berinstein Bear books. I also used to spin in the living room. I was facinated by how the room would appear to spin in a 180, side to side degree panorama. I also used to make animal tracks with my fingers in our deep pile carpet when it was new.
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Sounds unfair to punish an autistic child for something beyond her control. Just like my parents used to get mad at me for not being able to make friends, for not saying hi to another girl because I didn’t recognize her due to face blindness. Just like the teachers scolded me for my then horrible handwriting because I couldn’t figure out how to hold the pencil the right way. Just like my father got mad at me because of my lousy motor skills and ordered me to climb down from the slid while using a pillar. He yelled and wouldn’t let me get off on the slid or the ladder, blocking my way. I somehow managed to climb down without falling. I also got criticized for my inability to light a match… I could go on and on.
Sounds pretty horrible to just sit in that chair with nothing to do and no ability to move, probably worse for a kid on the spectrum.
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