I can promise you that you will have tough times. But what I can also promise you is that you can get through it. As I have said before, April is a tough time for adult autistics, especially around April 2. The trouble is, Autism Speaks hijacked the conversation about autism, and with its generally negative tone, many autistic people are vilified and pitied to a certain extent. As you can see, it is a tough time for us. We have to work extra hard to get ourselves through this month.
I’m not a doctor. I’m just an autistic wanting to help other autistics.
1) Acknowledge your feelings – and FEEL them
I’m sure you might have begun this particular technique if you are here. I’m not going to give you a platitude, I’m just saying that acknowledging what you feel is the beginning of getting through things.
2) Find someone to talk it out with that you trust
“That you trust” is critical. You need a safe space to talk about what you’re going through. For some people, it might be a fellow autistic on the other side of the planet – and that’s okay.
3) Practice Self-Care
You need to take care of yourself to fill up your particular spoons of limited resources. I have said before that self-care is not always luxurious and pretty; sometimes, it is choking down large amounts of pills up to several times a day. Need I say more?
4) Stim, stim, stim
That’s right; I’m going against all Applied Behavior Analysis training and saying that you could need a stim. It’s a comfort, and may even be a form of self-care. The only stims you need to avoid are ones that, obviously, injure you or others. If you need to find a stim idea, Tumblr has a blog called “stimmysuggestion” that has many ideas. My own stim is moving around; I can easily work that into public life. I am no hater of stimming; just find one that suits you.
5) Go crazy so you don’t go crazy
This was the entire point of MASH, a TV comedy in the 1970s-80s that centered around doctors in a medical unit during the Korean War. If you need to act WAY out of turn, go ahead and do it. Comedy and other forms of silliness are welcome in the self-care category of psychology. Go play on something (but make sure it can hold you). See a kid’s movie, even if you need to grab a niece or nephew to go see it. Play with a toy.
6) Try to See Past the Hardship – Consider that it’s only during one month, and drops off greatly after April 2
Also, remember that June 18 is Autistic Pride Day. I’m just saying.
7) Let Go of those Autism Marbleheads
Marble is a dense stone. Dense, hard and continues to be itself. Sounds like the anti-vaccine camp, huh? It often takes a dramatic, usually harmful event to get through to those who stubbornly hold onto false beliefs about autism. You can’t change a mind unless it wants to change.
8) Ask for help
There is nothing wrong with getting help. Considering the apparent stigma surrounding help, asking for it is a sign of strength. You are not Superman. You do not have to be.
9) Bonding with Other Autistics is Good For You
One of the things about finding your “tribe,” if you will, is that it feels good to know someone who understands you. That’s why so many of the actually autistic forums do so well. Besides, if you’re an eagle, wouldn’t you rather learn how to fly from other eagles?
10) Remember, everyone heals and deals differently
Again, if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Everyone needs their own specific combination of mindfulness, bonding, and even help to get through this tough time.
11) Think, Then Take Action if You Can
This is probably what this particular post is doing. Sometimes you need to just see what action you can actually take, and go with it. I say see what you can do first, because it could be wrong, like a bad movie. Thinking and then doing something is the best course of action. Perhaps other autistics can guide you.
12) Religion or Spirituality Helps
It helps to be part of something bigger than just yourself. This might help you remember that you’re not alone as well.
This is not an exhaustive list. It’s just a few ways to get through upcoming tough times, using the actually autistic person’s relationship with Autism “Awareness” Month as a background.