As an autism consultant I am often asked how I sort out what to do when I see an autistic client who is struggling in school or in life. As an autistic person I know first hand if stabilization needs are not met, regardless of the supports in place an autistic person will struggle. Stabilization consists of three areas that interplay – internal and external regulation in the context of a positive relationship.
All my life I have been easily overwhelmed by sound and motion. I can hear things nobody else even notices such as the hum of electric devices that are plugged in even when the appliance or device is not in use such as the coffee maker on my kitchen counter. I can hear fluorescent lights hum, the steady grind of ventilation systems in buildings and the crackling from inside my television when it is muted.
“As a child I eventually came to love being outdoors, but I didn’t always love it. In fact, I can recall the bright boldness of the sun being painful and of trying to duck away from it. By the time I was walking I knew this brightness was called the sun. Mostly I liked the sun sparkles, but some days I protested because the sun was so bright as to turn its sparkles into painful burning to my eyes. I became quite aware of which direction the pain from the bright sun came from at various times during the day (Right Sun and Left Sun). As a toddler I was tracking the sun and its amount of brightness so as to avoid the sensory impact of being hurt by this fireball as much as possible.
A challenge I am continually faced with as an autistic adult is the misinformed presumption and resulting behavior of neurotypical people when I do not look at them the in way they expect, want or demand of me. It is challenging because society has put the onus on me to change. Often it does not matter to others why I am different. They just want me to stop being different. Recently I was told directly, “If you want to be treated like a real person then act like one!”
I started painting with acrylics in 2012. I wanted to use that medium to illustrate aspects of my autism. To date I have written several articles and books along with speaking in three countries about aspects of autism. Painting is one more way to explain some of the nuances of autism to those who might be interested.