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Skateboarding While Autistic

Skateboarding While Autistic

By Jacinto Morales

Skateboarding: a truly unique experience, one that takes the best of art & physicality and makes them one wonderful adventure. I am an Autistic man coming out of his shell and skateboarding has helped me enter with joyful freedom. It was only a short while ago that I discovered this subculture of artists & athletes and began my own creative journey. It is truly a freeing activity, one that has led to self-discovery.

While a wooden board with four wheels may seem simple, it is in fact a key to releasing your inner creativity. Part of what makes it a key is the risk involved. When I got on a board for the first time, I had one foot on the ground and the other on the board. Putting both feet on that board took a lot of willpower, but once I was on it, I felt the freedom of skating. I had never skateboarded, never taken lessons. Skating helped me tackle my anxiety head-on, the challenge made me aware of my body and more graceful. Challenging myself allows me to understand what holds me back and what I can accomplish by overcoming those fears.

The first time I practiced my skating was in the privacy of my backyard. Next I needed to take board out into the open, for me that was the park. Skating through the park and weaving through strangers was intimidating but natural. Autism struggle to become comfortable with self expression, taking my clumsy and spasming body out skating is quite a step for me in that regard. As I became acquainted with my board, I took risks, moving my body in ways that allowed me to conquer my fears. I love the feeling of being comfortable with my body; I feel more part of the world around and break away from the restraints of my anxiety.

The artistic side of skateboarding is also key to opening up. As you develop your style of skateboarding, your personality manifests through that style. One may find they are a slow skater, constantly checking and analyzing every move they make. Or they may be fast, zipping from one spot to the next in a flash. All these styles signal to others who you are and how you perceive the world around you. Designing your skateboard also involves your personality. Skateboard designs often reflect what makes a person tick, be it pop culture icons or symbols of rebels, designing a skateboard means putting your mind on wood. The art becomes a signal of what moves my soul and makes my imagination live. There is no limit, your creativity is free.

One also learns to be comfortable with their body while skating. The more anxious Autistics may be clumsy and duck-footed. This can be a surprising setback when learning to open up, our body language affects how the world perceives us. A body must get in motion to stay in motion, without movement one may never move from the spot they put themselves in. Cold limbs must work themselves out in ways that enrich the soul and free the body. Through skating people learn to extend themselves. An extra part joins the body and changes the direction limbs move in by adding a fluidity that flexes the muscles and connects the mind to the legs and torso by guiding them through motions on a skateboard.

Autistic people often struggle with stims, which manifest as tiny brief movements like finger-flicking or sensory problems. Skating can help one manage stimming, by focusing my body on skating I learn to focus my movements and control my body. Skateboards also allow us to experience the elements in new ways, I gain a deeper understanding as my hair bounces in the wind which dances across my face simultaneously, renewing and refreshing the eyes. I become one with the elements as I roll, allowing the wind and the ground to aid in my ride. I master my senses by using them to skate, all touches and sounds make me want to ride more. The adventures becomes a meditation form; I let go of all things that hold me down and breeze through the world with peace.

Caution plays a part in skating, those rocks in the road that I pound into the ground with shoes, threaten to throw me from my board. I learn to watch out for those elements and find the bravery to weave and flow past them like water, instead of stamping through with crushing feet. The required gracefulness of a skateboard brings out the more sensitive side of a skater. One learns to be patient and to move in tandem with the board, adjusting and relaxing their posture as the ride goes on. The movements of a board will stay with the rider even when they are walking on their own two feet, the feel of a skateboard will manifest in unexpected and rewarding ways. The relaxed attitude of skating will ease the mind into social situations and fire up the confidence to try new things that seemed to be out of the individuals reach.

The rewards of skating are many, mental health among them. An activity that allows one to free themselves will lead to even more opportunities to expand your social circle. Even if it’s not skating itself that lead to socializing, the lesson learned from rolling through the world on this board can apply to any situation an Autistic finds themselves in. The path of the ride is the path to finding one’s place in the larger world where companions and friendship await.

Jacinto Morales is a young writer living Maryland he studied writing at Frederick Community College. He enjoys writing about pop culture and how Autism relates to the subject.

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