Laurel Ridge State Park Pavilion / Concession
Acceptance and Awareness, Dignity & Respect, Independence, Open Topic

Understanding What Works

Autism is a struggle, there is no denial of that. When an autistic person such as myself has to navigate through the motions in a world that isn’t necessarily designed for us, we can be severely affected as a result of many actions that we may not be able to control. However, for me, I had to understand what works and actually put it to use so I can manage the life I must endure.

It isn’t that my life is that bad, in fact I am blessed to have the opportunity to do and have many things in my life. There’s just triggering factors that cause me to overreact whether it is to a comment that someone said, overload from sensory issues, a sudden or unknown change in my schedule, so on and so forth. When my brain is able to process these thoughts, it is often done in a negative way where I overreact and catastrophize the worst possible solution of something that is said or has happened that I think has an effect on me. Diverting from these thoughts can be difficult and hard unless I utilize the necessary coping and defense mechanisms that I have been taught in order to manage my life from spiraling out of control.

While utilizing all necessary aids in place to ensure that I am able to manage my conduct , I can understand the importance of the when and how to utilize the skills necessary to divert from a situation so I do not react in a way that cannot be reversed and cause unwanted action. Understanding feelings has been a key concept of this process and recognizing what they are rather than the action has been helpful in processing what is going on in my headspace rather than having a meltdown that affects others and their return reaction.

What is also important is understanding what to do when the triggering feelings arise. This for me can occur when I am not engaged in an activity or silence. Music helps greatly in this area. Recently, what has put me in a good place is listening to one of two radio stations that put my headspace into a good spirit. (Smart Speakers are great for finding those stations beyond the reach of radio antennas!) It reminds me that I am stronger than what my brain is trying to tell me at the present moment and I can get out of the dark space by remembering when I used to hear that song (particularly years ago,before I became independent, before COVID, etc) I utilize my smart speaker or music when I am doing mundane tasks that would otherwise bring negative self-talk and feelings that I would have difficulty reframing back into good thoughts.

Another tactic is recognizing when you are in sensory overload and the opportunity presents itself to divert yourself from a situation that is causing issues for an individual. I have realized that sometimes in a world that is overly loud that I need to sometimes get away to a quiet area and utilize my sensory kit so I can refocus my attention to something that can calm me down and not escalate the situation into being worse.

These are some of the things that helped me understand my autistic self and what works for getting me out of challenging situations and thought processes that could become worse if not attended to in a timely fashion when natural supports may not be available or helpful for me to get through and is way to prevent me from acting out in a way that I may not want to or have others see me in a way that isn’t a way that I would like. For me, it is what works.

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