Cycling. All people on the autism spectrum do it; some more noticeably than others. No one knows what causes it; there’s seemingly no rhyme or reason to when it happens. But when it does, the autistic seems to regress. In my case, I can become extremely irritable, lose my ability to concentrate, have the reasoning skills of someone much younger, and I don’t sleep well. Other autistics show different symptoms, since we’re all different. One thing I’m sure of, thanks to talking to my younger brother (who is also on the spectrum), is that none of us like the cycling process. We lose abilities we’ve learned to rely on, we don’t feel normal, and interacting with others is harder than usual. For one thing, we might come across as having below average intelligence even though we have above average IQs. Simple tasks take a lot more thought than usual, and distraction is a constant problem.
Each episode of cycling can last from a day or two to a couple of weeks. There is no cure for it other than time and patience on the part of everyone around the autistic. Cycling is hard on everyone. Parents wonder how to help their children through the difficulties they’re having, but there’s nothing they can do. It can be frightening to see your child lose abilities they had the day before. It’s just as difficult to know they can succeed at things, but during the cycling process they’re as helpless as they were when they were years younger.
The good news is, cycling doesn’t happen regularly, like once a month or every two months, and it does eventually end. The bad news is, cycling is unpredictable. It can happen every month or it can happen once every couple of years. There’s no way to schedule activities and trips around when the autistic cycles. It’s a hit or miss occurrence that leaves everyone guessing when it will happen again. Eventually, it becomes an accepted part of life just as autism is a part of life.