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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Body Language (11/25/10)

TITLE: Crossed Signals
By Allison Egley


I wish you knew what it was like to be in my body. I wish I could tell you, but I can't. I try to talk to you, but it just comes out as a scream. I know what I want to say, but it just doesn't come out.

I wish I could control my body. I'm so much more than my body language would indicate. There's a reason I do the things I do. I don't fully understand it, and I wish I did. It's like I'm always sitting on pins and needles and being tickled by a feather, all at the same time. I have to get away, so I move constantly. Sometimes my body just doesn't do what I tell it to do. I try to tell it to sit still and be quiet, but it just won't listen.

I flap my hands because they feel like they're on fire. I move my head in circles because there's always a crick in my neck. My eyes dart around because there's something flying around in the air. I close my eyes because the lights in the house are like strobe lights to me. I cover my ears because when you talk, it sounds like you're screaming. When you yell at me... I only yell back to drown out the piercing sound in my head. The other day when the smoke alarm went off, I just cowered on the floor. The sound was enough to paralyze me. I wondered if I'd die from the noise or the fire.

I know I'm different. Do you think I don't notice? I wish I could be normal. I wish I saw the world as you see it. I know I've never been in your body, but I know it's not like mine. Because if it were, you'd understand.

I wish I could tell you these things. Even if I could talk, it wouldn't come out sounding right, because my mind moves so fast. My mouth wouldn't be able to catch up.

If I could be normal for just a few hours, I'd tell you these things. I'd tell you I'm not stupid. I know so much more than I can express. But you can't hear me, and you can't read my mind. The only thing you have to read is my body language. But it betrays me. It shows you the physical side of me, yes. It shows you my pain, even if you can't tell it's pain. It tells you my frustration, even if you just think Iím acting out. It shows my fears, and those really are fears. But it's not the fears you think they are. I don't fear monsters under the bed or the dark. I fear that I will forever by a prisoner in my own body. My body tells you many things, but the message gets jumbled.

If I could be normal for a day, I'd snuggle up with my mom next to a fire. I'd make her some hot cocoa and we'd have a real mother daughter talk. I'd talk about the boy I like, and she'd tell me to be careful. I'd cry and tell her how the other kids treat me at school.

If I could be normal for a week, I'd go on a vacation with my family. And I'd enjoy it. I wouldn't be overwhelmed by all the changes in routine and in my surroundings. I'd be able to enjoy exploring my new surroundings, instead of being afraid of them. I wouldn't stay in the hotel room with the covers over my head, shrieking whenever someone comes close.

If I could be normal for a month, I'd get creative and try to write a novel. Maybe it would be about my life, and I'd be the hero instead of the villain.

If I could be normal for a year, I'd show my teachers that I do listen and I do understand. I'd ace my geometry tests. I'd make friends. Real friends.

If I could be normal for a lifetime, I'd have a family of my own. I'd understand when my kids got frustrated. I know what it's like.

I wish you could see the real me, and not the me that my physical body portrays. If only the me on the inside could be expressed on the outside. Then maybe I'd be normal.

But Iím not normal. I'm a prisoner in my own body. I have autism.

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This article has been read 889 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Rachel Phelps12/02/10
Wow, powerful story. I love your list of "If I could be normal for..." Heartwrenching. Well done.
Cheryl Harrison12/03/10
Good job describing the body language of autism. Keep writing.
Barbara Lynn Culler12/04/10
Awesome job! I thought it was someone with autism by the way she reacted to her environment. You really put into words what some go through. Great job!
Colin Swann12/04/10
Thanks for this moving story. Our daughter's young son Kyle has mild autism and Gill and I pray regularly that he may get a friend to play with. No one seems to want to befriend him. With your insight into things (revealed by your piece) perhaps you would pray for him too.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/04/10
Your well written article really awakened in me a sympathy for those who suffer in this way.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/05/10
This will go a long way in helping people understand autism. Wonderfully done.
Terri Schroeder12/06/10
Great article on a very misunderstood problem.
Noel Mitaxa 12/07/10
This is brilliant in its grasp of an invisible process. Please send it to Guideposts magazine, or to Reader's Digest, or Newsweek. More people need to see this material.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/09/10
Congratulations for placing 12th in level 4. This was really a powerful piece.
Jan Ackerson 12/20/10
Allison, I'm going to feature this in the Front Page Showcase for the week of January 24. Look for it on the FaithWriters home page--and congratulations!