his body does his feelings

Brooke, doing happy

Katie and I are chatting as we walk. Well, Katie’s chatting. I’m listening. And trying to keep up. Good Lord, this child can talk a blue streak. Yes, I know, she comes by it honestly. Thank you.

She’s talking about a boy in her class who she assumes (and we know) is on the spectrum. The same boy who she described in third grade as ‘annoying’. The one who is now ‘a really sweet kid, Mama, he just … ya know, has trouble sometimes.’

It’s amazing what awareness can do to perception.

“It’s just, well, ya know, he gets really silly sometimes in class ’cause he can’t really process stuff the way that we do so instead of talking about how he feels or whatever, his body DOES his feelings.”

I stop walking. In fact, I stop moving completely.


I turn to her. “Baby, what exactly do you mean by ‘his body DOES his feelings?'”

“Oh. Well, ya know, it’s like if he’s feeling happy – it comes straight out through his body. His body DOES how happy feels. So he gets silly and jumps around and flaps his hands and steals stuff from people’s desks. Cause he’s happy. Know what I mean?”

I fumble for words.

“Um, yeah, baby. I know what you mean. Did you come up with that language, sweetie or did someone talk to the class about this?”

“Oh, well, actually Evan said that.”


“He’s a kid in our class. He’s like SUPER smart. That’s what he said one day when we were talking about this stuff.”

Oh, Evan, you’re not just smart; you’re brilliant.

His body DOES his feelings.

I can think of no better way to describe our kids to their peers, Ev. You see, we adults like to say that all behavior is communication, which is all fine and dandy – and true – but doesn’t mean a whole lot to a seven year-old who is baffled by his classmate’s flapping hands or stomping feet. Or, oh, let’s say a classroom of third graders who are watching my kid careen around the perimeter of the gym. But this?

His body DOES his feelings?

Well this, Ev, is accessible.

This is awesome.

Thanks, kid. We owe ya one.

29 thoughts on “his body does his feelings

  1. Ah, would that there were more Evans to help us all get it. Yep, that totally sums it up. Nik’s body DOES his feelings, too. My favorite, of course, is his “happy pony dance” β€”which doesn’t even begin to describe the joy he communicates when he does it. πŸ™‚

  2. I totally agree – pure genius this Evan is!! Wish there were more like him out there with such beautiful insight!!

  3. My girl calls flapping her Butterfly wings. I asked her one time why she does it,she smiled and said “Because Mommy I’m happy!”. Let those wings flap away!! : )

  4. Spectacular! I’m using this to help my 8 year old understand. (and my husband :P)

    Evan gets it, thank the Lord. Some days, it seems there is so much hope.

  5. such a great phrase…i immediately cut and pasted it into my brain. will be using it often. thx for sharing it, evan gets bonus points.

  6. Excellent way to put it. We were just remarking in OT that Ian’s frustration is total body frustration–everything literally shakes. And his joy is total body joy. But you know, my body does my feelings too–tense shoulders when I’m stressed, stomach in knots when I’m nervous, tears when I’m sad–and clapping, laughter, and sometimes tears when I’m happy. Does anyone NOT have a body that does feelings?

  7. The wisdom of youth. What a perfect description. Katies’ description of the little boy in her class made me laugh out loud because it describes our Christian exactly.His body does his feeling.

  8. Love it. This is why we should have so much hope for the next generation! They will figure things out in ways we can’t even begin to imagine.

  9. Evan, as the Mom of two children on the spectrum, you just helped ME to get it. Thank you, Evan. The next time one of my children starts to flick his fingers, spin around, or run around the room in large circle, I will think of you as I watch him “do his feelings”.

  10. My son has been recently diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder and this week with Sensory Processing Disorder. I so often watch my son as his “body does his feelings” and am amazed at my own reactions to it. There are times that I look on with an indulgent smile, times that it cracks me up, times that I am embarrassed, and times when others are giving me the death glare and I can just hear them thinking “Why don’t you controll your child” and anxiety just overwhelms me. It takes reading wonderful stories like these that helps me realize that my son is truly expressing how he feels through his body. The next time I get that death glare I hope I can smile and say “isn’t it wonderful to let our bodies express our emotions?”

  11. I love this. So much.

    Because it’s such a wonderful phrase.

    And for me, a lot of the time I can’t even tell what my feelings are or how I am doing, but I’ve analyzed the patterns of my behaviors enough time that if I stop and think about it, I can realize that certain behaviors are warning signs that I need to take a break or certain ones are just when I am completely and wholly happy.

  12. I love this even more today than when I first read it. I’m trying to find the right words to explain to my daughter’s first grade class about her brand of autism (per her request, which is pretty awesome. πŸ˜‰ ) but she is so much different than her older brother, the same words just won’t work this time around. I felt like I ws starting from scratch until you re-shared this. Perfect timing as usual. Thanks!! xoxo

  13. And this is why I am buying the book. At least 10 copies for family and friends. I am also stocking up on post-it flags for every page!!

  14. This is my first time reading this, and I must say…… I LOVE IT!!! It is arid to sometimes explain to people why ur child does certain things and this is perfect!!!
    When my son crawls under “his shelf” at after care (non-autistics) and puts his hands over his ears, the kids say to the teacher, ” why does jayden do that” the teacher said, (and I love her for this) “u guys are getting too loud and crazy! Jayden just needs a break from u guys” lol gotta love our special gifts!!! πŸ™‚

  15. Pingback: PrAACtical AAC | Supports for language learning

  16. I want to run up and give that Evan kid a hug! That is the best, most simple, straightforward, easy to grasp way of putting it that I have ever heard! I think I’m going to use that for Christopher from here on out! LOVE IT!

  17. My son (8 years old, HFA) was just talking about a classmate’s flapping and jumping. He’s a perceptive kid. I read him this. I think he gets it now.

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