My hands are small I know, they are not yours they are my own – Jewell.
The song hands by Jewell has always spoken deeply to my heart. It connects with something deeply within me. I have never really thought too deeply about why and how this is but over the last few days I have been thinking about the idea of “quiet hands”. If you are unfamiliar with this you can read more about it over at Just Stimming’s Quiet Hands post. As I read this remarkable post and thought about it and the whole idea of quiet hands in preparation for the forthcoming Connecting Hemispheres episode, I think I have a bit of an idea of why this song has spoken so deeply to my soul.
Here is the song by Jewell. It’s worth taking the 3 mins or so to listen to it, whether for the first time or just one of many.
It’s a pretty simple concept. These hands are not yours they are my own. It shouldn’t be that hard a thing to get and to understand. These hands here at the end of my arms, they are mine not yours, and those at the end of your arms, they’re yours not mine. It’s not, as they say, rocket science is it.
Somehow for some reason there is this really screwed up idea that things that would never be tolerated for so-called normal children is somehow perfectly acceptable, even desirable, and tragically in some circles, considered to be best practice when it comes to autistic children.
Well no it’s not ok.
Just because I say that cardboard is stone doesn’t make is so. And just because a so-called therapist says abuse is therapy doesn’t make it so.
No Abuse is abuse and it should be treated as such regardless of who it is perpetrated upon.
This whole “quiet hands” goes along with the concept of “table ready” and sits within a framework of so-called therapies like applied behaviour analysis (ABA), which aims to make the autistic child indistinguishable from the allistic child.
It is, to put it bluntly, a flawed view of humanity in my view. It is in essence a world-view that says to be autistic is to be less.
In the pursuit of this goal much damage has been done to autistic people. Abuse has been perpetrated on people for no other reason than the pursuit of conformity and uniformity.
Quiet hands, is one aspect of a strategy to stop and remove self stimulatory behaviours or “Stims”. It is done so with no desire to understand what these behaviours are about, what purpose they have, what they achieve for the person displaying them, what they communicate, or how they help a neurodiverse person function in a neurotypical world.
Personally I did not experience the “quiet hands” treatment as flapping has never been a stim I have used much, what I did experience though was being yelled at, slapped, spanked and the like for jigging my legs, fidgeting and fiddling with things and rubbing my fingers together, to name a few.
Leg jigging ha always been my stim of choice. It is done so automatically that most of the time I never even realise I am doing it until I have been for some time. To this day as a 45-year-old man I still flinch both internally and at times externally, in expectation of the thump from my mother or father for doing so.
“Quiet hands” along with other aspects of ABA “therapy” has been linked to autistic people subjected to it to developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is just not ok. People are so traumatized they develop PTSD! And for what?
The only answer to the for what is: for the benefit of those that are uncomfortable, embarrassed or seek to change autistic people to appear to be more “normal”.
“Quiet hands”, “Table Ready” and ABA are merely euphemisms for practices that are traumatic for those that are subject to them.
They must be stopped.
I am autistic, I seek accommodations to assist me, not abusive treatments to change me.
The pursuit of “quiet hands” is akin to telling a person with asthma they must not use their ventolin puffer, or a person with a spinal injury that they must not use a wheel chair. It is like harking back to the days of forcing left-handed children to write with their right hand whilst sitting on their left.
Just as the aversion and conversion techniques used commonly on gay men to turn them into straight men were no more than abuse, so too is the pursuit of “quiet hands”
My hands are small I know, they are not yours they are my own…
… Only kindness matters