Autism: Why can’t my child sit still?

By Kloey Kaeser

August 29, 2022

Autism "why" Part 2:

Man, I thought I’d write about a few “why’s,” but that one was long. If I make this too long, Christina will never get through it! (Incase you didn’t know, insulting Christina is one of my favorite pastimes; I’m quite good at it). 

With that in mind, here is the final “why” I’ll write about today: Why can’t my child sit still? The run-of-the-mill doctor might just say they need to get movement out… WRONG! Actually, we need to get movement in. Due to autism, our central nervous system does not work quite right. We cannot interpret all the stimuli our body is exposed to properly, leading to confusing feelings and dysregulation. While sitting still may be fine for a neurotypical person, our bodies yell “THIS IS THE WORST! THIS IS THE WORST” (that’s a line from my favorite episode of my childhood favorite TV show: Henry Danger). This is because our bodies don’t register as much movement as we actually get, so it demands more. 

Imagine you pour 4 cups of water into a bowl, but say what?! Mysteriously there is only 1 cup of water in the bowl, even after pouring 4– now that’s not right! Our bodies feel like there are spiders crawling all over us; or for those of you with arachnophobia, it feels as though there is a sparkler running over our bodies… ouch! (hopefully, nobody here is a pyromaniac, I don’t want to give any ideas). Anyway, it is so, so, so uncomfortable! The more we try to stay still, the worse it gets, until finally, our nervous system forces us to get movement. When I try to be still for too long in a place like church where you’re “supposed to;” one, it is hard, for it's a terrible feeling, and two, I’ll start to get shoulder twitches: my body’s way of forcing me to get the movement I need. This starts as that uncomfortable feeling I mentioned which just builds and builds until my right shoulder twitches (also called a tic, which are common in autism). When we don’t or can’t get the movement we need it heightens all the anxiety we already feel, because now we’re anxious and uncomfortable. Uh no.. getting up there in straws– just one more thing could be the final straw which puts us into a meltdown. 

Moral of the story: don’t restrict movement unless it is dangerous to the individual themselves or those around them. I know, in quiet, proper places, you don’t want to be the parent who looks like they can’t keep your child in order. As I like to say, ignore the haters, and do what’s best for your kid! You are the one who knows them, not the stranger with the judgy, goo-goo eyes.


Autism offers so many unknowns… how do you uncover unknowns typically?… you talk it out, wait what!? Nope, that ain’t gonna work for many with autism. Therefore you are left to wonder: am I doing right by my kid? Well, I hope, even though I only touched on two areas, that this helped you understand the people around you with autism better, so that you may offer them better support and love. 


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