Sun permeates trees, inviting
Spring awakens dormant roots
Let it fill your lungs and spirit
Lazy day today, though I did go on a walk and did a minimal amount of work. Fighting against cabin fever is so much easier when you can go outside and actually feel the sun warming your skin. I was fortunate enough to do that today. Despite tragedy and death, the world is still alive. Remember that.
I learned a very valuable lesson this week from one of my clients who self identifies as being on the autism spectrum. Having most of my own mental health issues mostly under wraps, I still, from time to time, get activated. This sometimes happens when I find myself needing to match other people’s energy or being affected by their energy. People with autism can “stim” or do some type of movement in order to be expressive, get their energy out, or get some sensory need met. If you’re someone who is distractable or has a background of trauma, this can be a challenge if you feel yourself getting activated. I prefer calm, slow movements, I realized.
I noticed myself interpreting some of the fidgeting as though the person was bored, mad, or [insert any other negative emotion]. As we got into talking about the experience of autism, the person mentioned this isn’t always the case. Ultimately, after this conversation, I likened it to how I doodle in class to make myself more comfortable, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m bored or not paying attention. I think deep down I already knew all of this, but sometimes it’s just nice to have certain things reinforced. Stimming is a way for people to take care of themselves and to just be themselves. It has nothing to do with me, it doesn’t necessarily signify distress, and I don’t need to take responsibility for how others function in the world. It may, at times, be a challenge for me to keep this perspective if I feel activated, but this was a very welcome lesson for me. Even though we didn’t have a direct conversation about stimming and my reaction, I found my own fear subsiding as we talked more and more about autism. Typically, I have mainly worked with nonverbal people/kids with autism, and came to expect some differing social/physical behavior, but I didn’t expect to activated in the way that I was this week. That hasn’t happened in a while for me. Obviously different functional levels can present differently, and having something articulated to me directly from the source was immensely helpful. Again, I already knew a lot of this stuff from research, but hearing it confirmed by an actual human, I think, assuaged some of my fear that I was doing things “wrong.”
Do you find yourself activated at times when working with the public?
Have you ever worked with people with autism? I’ve thought at times it might be possible that I am on the spectrum, but the label isn’t important to me. It’s also possible that I’ve “gone native,” for lack of a more PC term, after doing so much research on autism lately.
Anyway, I hope me sharing my experience (and photos!) is interesting/helpful/a health distraction.
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