Hi, it’s Ben, and I wanted to talk about something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.
Sometimes, when you are autistic, it can be incredibly challenging to handle yourself. Some days, especially when you haven’t had enough time to do self-care actions such as spending time outside and working out, or you haven’t been eating the right foods, it can be extremely difficult to keep calm. Sometimes, I go through time periods where I have an episode daily for up to a week, and it is then that I know at least one behavior has to change, or there are moments that feel so tense that you just want to scream. Things are too intense and sometimes you are the one who is making them intense, but you don’t always have access to the tools needed to calm down and fight the intensity. It’s like being taken over by an inner demon. In these situations, the best thing to do is probably just leave the room, but you can’t always just get that message to your brain and leave.
One of my heroes, the autistic talk show host Carly Fleishman, has said a couple of very important things in a youtube video. “I know what’s right and wrong, but it’s like I have a fight with my brain over it.” “I want to be able to go to school with normal kids, but not have them getting upset or scared if I hit a table or scream. I want something that will put out the fire.” These quotes resonate with so many of us on the spectrum strongly and we wish more people in the non autistic community understood them. The second thing in particular feels so familiar that I cry every time I see the video and hear her say that.
I think that we can find the water to extinguish our fires, but that it takes a lot of work, and, especially when you have a busy schedule, that can be like climbing a mountain. Difficult doesn’t cover it. Some small things to do which take practice but are worth trying and don’t take up time at all include
- Finding something on a nearby wall to look at
- Playing this game called stroop affect
- Walking out of the room walking around the house and coming back
- Going outside for five seconds
- Finding the nearest pillow, cushion, or wad of paper, and screaming into it, because let’s face it, sometimes we really need to scream, even though we can still prevent ourselves from hurting other people’s ears
It can be challenging being on the spectrum, but many of our challenges can be handled with self-care and with tips like these. Most importantly, I want everyone else who struggled with getting over stimulated and not being able to or knowing how to calm down to understand something: you are not alone. I’ve been through your pain and I stand with you!