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by Ruth Banning 2 months ago in art

Working without a plan

By Ruth Banning

One thing people might not realise about me when they first meet me, is that I’m autistic.

...five, six, seven...

It’s understandable, I didn’t find out myself until my late 20s!

...ten, eleven, twelve...

Looking back, it should have been obvious for a lot of reasons.

...sixteen, seventeen, eighteen...

One of those reasons is my constant need to have a plan.

...twenty one, twenty two, twenty three...

When I don’t know what’s going to happen, I get extremely anxious.

...twenty six, twenty seven, twenty eight...

And when I get anxious, I need to fidget, which is another sign we missed!

...thirty two, thirty three, thirty four...

But as with many late diagnosed autistic people, I stumbled upon coping mechanisms for my unexplained anxiety.

...thirty seven, thirty eight, thirty nine...

And that’s where craft comes into the picture.

...forty two, forty three, forty four...

Craft gives me something to do with my hands.

...forty seven, forty eight, forty nine...

And when my hands are busy, my anxiety melts away.

...fifty two, fifty three, fifty four...

Sometimes when my anxiety is bad, it’s hard to think of something to make.

...fifty seven, fifty eight, fifty nine...

So I like to have a backup plan, a go-to craft for when I need to start before the inspiration hits.

...sixty three, sixty four, sixty five...

And when I was little, I stumbled upon an ideal backup craft; pompom making!

...sixty nine, seventy, seventy one...

When people think of autism and sensory seeking, they most likely think big - whole body seeking like spinning in circles, or weighted blankets.

...seventy seven, seventy eight, seventy nine...

For me, it’s usually the little things.

...eighty two, eighty three, eighty four...

The movement of a single strand of bright pink yarn dragging through my fingers as I wind.

...eighty eight, eighty nine, ninety...

The small but ever increasing pressure of strand upon strand wound around my fingers.

...ninety four, ninety five, ninety six...

There’s also the rhythm of the numbers in my head as I count to... hundred!

There’s few sounds more satisfying than the sound a pair of sharp scissors makes as it cuts through a hundred strands of yarn. The sound of metal against metal starting at a low pitch and slowly rising as the blades progressively overlap, ending in a final snap as the last strand of yarn gives way and the scissor handles meet again.

Few sights are more satisfying than tightly wound, dense masses of wool bursting into a mass of fuzzy fibers.

Few objects are more satisfying to hold than a soft, squishy sphere you just brought into existence.

And it’s hard to beat the feeling of brushing your face with a homemade pompom as though it were a makeup brush...that’s something everyone’s done from time to time, right?

Or maybe that one’s just me.

I’ve tossed a freshly made pompom from one hand to another more times than I can count, pondering what it might become.

Some have turned into pompom critters, some into pompom wands, and some are stashed away waiting to be turned into a pompom rug.

Autism can make it feel a lot more important to have a plan, whether it be for a project, or an outing, or for life. But autism often makes it a lot less simple coming up with a plan.

Aside from the anxiety and executive functioning issues that often go hand in hand with autism, there’s also a lot of physical health conditions that are quite common in autistic people.

It’s hard to plan for a future with so many uncertainties.

But just like with making pompoms, sometimes it’s ok to not have it all planned out.


Ruth Banning

Autistic crafter, writer, artist, sewer....and collector of all things tiny.

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