Mette Harrison
4 min readJun 24, 2022

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Autism and Clumsiness

I have always been incredibly clumsy. Some of the most obvious signs of this are the stains on my clothing. The first time I wear anything, I am sure to get a stain on it for the simple reason that I get stains on everything I wear every day. I am a grown ass adult woman. I’ve written over a dozen novels for national publication. I hold a PhD in German Literature. I work for a top financial firm. And yet, I cannot keep clothes clean for the life of me. I sometimes buy clothes and just let them sit in the closet new because I don’t want to ruin them and I know I will if I put them on. For years, my wardrobe was jeans and cheap T-shirts because I could just throw them out regularly.

In addition to food stains, I frequently get bruises and cuts from situations that I have no memory of. Especially while exercising or racing, I will get so distracted by the goal of the finish line, adrenaline or all the other pain in my body, that I won’t noticed I’m bleeding until I stop. I am one of those weird people who loves racing and hates the finish line because that’s when the pain suddenly rushes toward me. My family members who race assure me that this is not normal. They feel the pain the whole way through the race and the finish line is a relief. My family members also worry about me while I’m training because I will keep going even when I should stop. Like, concussion and dripping blood should stop. But no, I get back on my bike because I need to finish my workout.

Even though I’m a triathlete, I have a tendency to get injuries while not racing, as well. I’ll fall off the sidewalk while out walking. Or burn my finger on the stove — why do I not remember the stove is hot at this point in my life? I cut my own fingers while chopping vegetables because I guess I’m not making the connection between where my fingers are and where the knife will be cutting.

Looking back on my childhood, I realize that my clumsiness was part of the reason that I was so cautious. I was one of those kids who watched other kids go up and down the slide, and was content to swing very gently. I didn’t want to risk injuries because I didn’t trust my own sense of balance or my brain’s ability to figure out where my body was.

When I learned to drive, this problem extended to the three-dimensional space of the car. I’m one of those few people who does not think…

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Mette Harrison

Autist, Ironman Worlds triathlete, Writer, Right-Brained