Walking around or pacing is considered an autistic trait or a form of stimming. Bilal started walking around when he was two and a half years old. It was a nightly ritual, every evening around the same time he would start pacing around the house back and forth and in circles with this very intense expression on his face, humming, sometimes smiling and totally immersed in a world of his own, he wouldn’t acknowledge us when we called him and if we stood in his way, without really looking at us he would walk around us and go on. When he started daycare at the age of 3, whenever the kids were given free time to pick whatever toy or activity they wanted to do and go do it without teacher instructions, Bilal would instead start pacing, he didn’t know how to play during free time, he had to have the teacher tell him what to do and he’d do it fine no problem. As he got a bit older he would pace only when he was bored, not nightly. Then when he was 4 if you tried to stop him he would laugh and look at you, if you called him he would reply and then when I asked him what he was doing, he’d say “walking around”. He was no longer deep into it, he was on the surface and I was always trying to find something for him to do, I knew that once he started pacing it meant he was bored and didn’t know what to do with his time. A few months ago we were at the playground, it was a weekend and crowded most people there were in groups, every child had a sibling or friend. Bilal played a bit on the sets, then tried to initiate a pirate game with the other kids but when they all ran off with their own friends I think he got overwhelmed or just bored by himself, he started walking around the playground with that intense expression on his face, I was pushing his younger brother on the swing and could see him but then his circle took him behind the bathrooms where I couldn’t see him so I quickly scooped his brother out of the swing and quickly got Bilal and went home. I told him at the playground you play on the sets or with someone or we go home, we don’t walk around like that. He kept saying “But I have to walk around” he wouldn’t elaborate and I didn’t get it and worried about him in Kindergarten and beyond.
Recently he was walking around the house so I told him to stop and find something to play with, telling him he had a lot of toys, the computer, Xbox etc… So he sat down and said, “but now I cant see the pictures”, I tried to have him explain what pictures and what that had to do with walking around, over the next few days his dad and I would ask him about the pictures, and what they were of. He finally explained that he sees Power Rangers his newest favorite show while he’s walking but the pictures stop when he sits down. I’m not sure if he’s replaying show scenes in his head or imagining himself as a Power Ranger but his imagining only works while walking around for some reason, like the movie reel is attached to his legs.
So I told him” You’ve been walking around like that since you were 2, what did you see when you were 2?”
Him: “I don’t know”
Me: “when you were 3?”
Him: “I don’t know”
Me: “when you were 4?”
He: At first, “I don’t know” then he said “camp” but he would not elaborate (could be either the boy scout camp he went to with his father or the summer adapted sports camp he attended.)
Me: “and at 5, its Power Rangers?”
Him: “Yes, I love Power Rangers, its my favorite”
So as he’s getting older and more verbal we’re getting little explanations for the things he does and those odd little things are getting less and less intense, I’m actually looking forward to more explanations and understanding what’s going on in there.