Aspergers and physical awkwardness.

This topic was prompted by a “selfie” photo that I uploaded yesterday to a Facebook group for adults with Aspergers Syndrome that I belong to. My photo was surprisingly complimented by several people on the group which was lovely. I was nervous when I first uploaded it but a lot of other group members were doing the same thing and I do like to match names to faces so I thought I’d give people the chance to match my face to my name.

I do not photograph well. When I know that someone is taking a picture of me, my pose ends up being awkward and I either grin without showing any teeth which makes me look a bit like a dolphin or I look far too serious. At least, with a “selfie”, I can readjust the camera several times to get a shot in which I look half decent. I am under no illusions-I know that I am physically awkward. I have small eyes that often look half closed in photographs. I often move around in an awkward manner too-like a lot of people with Aspergers, I have physical coordination problems which were originally diagnosed as dyspraxia so I have an awkward gait and run very awkwardly. I often struggle with tasks that require manual dexterity, fine motor skills and hand to eye coordination, often taking twice as long as most people to complete them. I have noticed that coordination problems appear to be a lot more significant in people with Aspergers Syndrome than people with severe autism. I am unsure of why this is the case but find it fascinating.

Of course, not every person with Aspergers has coordination problems but, from discussions I’ve participated in on online forums about this topic, I know that there are a high number of people with Aspergers out there who are viewed as “clumsy” and “physically awkward”. I believe that this is one of the causes of low self esteem in a lot of people with Aspergers. I have heard Aspergers described as “social and physical awkwardness all mixed in together” before and, to me personally, that definitely sums me up! I always feel like there’s nowhere in the world that I really fit in comfortably-the best I can do is observe how other people interact and try and imitate this. I have always felt awkward and ill at ease in the world. My physical awkwardness doesn’t help matters. I have poor posture and trying to correct this is painful for me. I have been told by a chiropractor that the two sides of my body don’t work in sync with each other and I have been told by an osteopath that my shoulders are hypermobile (although I can’t see any evidence of that in everyday life). My handwriting is illegible to a lot of people and those that can read it have to take a long time over it. I have heard all the jokes about people having to be drunk to read my handwriting as that’s the only way it makes sense to them! I usually laugh along with these jokes but I do think it’s unfair that people can write insightful pieces of work which are then discounted because their handwriting takes more time and effort to read than people are prepared to give. I mainly communicate via computer rather than through handwriting now but there are times when I have to use handwriting, particularly at work.

This blog post is not really educating anyone in a purposeful manner-it’s just me explaining a bit more about my physical coordination problems. However, I would like people to take from it that Aspergers involves a whole lot more than social awkwardness-in fact, I believe that the social and physical awkwardness I have is directly related to underlying neurological processes that affect the way I perceive and process information and act on messages that my brain is sending to me. If you know someone with Aspergers who struggles physically, please understand that it is likely to be related and be patient with them.


6 Responses to Aspergers and physical awkwardness.

  1. Noah Weiss says:

    I am definitely physically awkward as well, and an Aspie. Thinking about my movements and trying to self-correct them is something which is anything but natural to me. This is probably one reason that I never got into competitive sports.

    My handwriting is sometimes difficult to read, but I haven’t had many complaints from my students–I am a teaching assistant at Northwestern right now.

  2. Joseyjo says:

    Well written Steph. I am finding your blog so helpful and interesting. You are so articulate you are when describing how Aspergers affects you. I am understanding it so much better now. Thank you xx

  3. ellyakanga says:

    Stephie, those of us who really know you will continue to love you no matter the handwriting, the walking gait or posture. For me, you are an amazing person and there are millions out there who would say exactly the same if they ever got a chance to meet you. Don’t ever feel down because of what you cannot change. Love you lots xx

  4. Debbie Martin says:

    Well said Ele! x

  5. I have it but it took a very long time for anyone to actually tell me what I have. Inverted hips, knees, and I overpronate on both feet as a result of this. All of this is quite evident if you look at my shoes or watch me run (or attempt to). It is also a major issue when I go shoe shopping.

  6. lee954 says:

    I’ve got Asperger’s syndrome and my unusual clumsy gait and rigid posture cause me all sorts of problems, bullying and social exclusion being the worst. I did walk on my toes as a child but don’t think I do now.

    No help is available for this problem where I live.

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