Balancing life’s interests

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Balancing life’s interests 👇🏻

When I want to do something or I find a topic I am interested in, and want to build my understanding and knowledge on this.

I get totally absorbed in finding out as much information as possible, through reading, internet searches, and during this time everything else gets pushed aside.

If I have to stop doing this, it makes me agitated, grumpy and angry. If a person is trying to talk to me or asking me to do something, it really irritates me, it’s like my mind can’t stop thinking about this interest. Leaving me not able to process any other information, or complete other tasks that someone has asked me to do.

I become totally preoccupied by this interest, finding balance seems to be so difficult!

I am all or nothing, I can’t do something slightly. I am just not able.

Can you relate?

Girls Autistic Journey 🖤

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Autistic shutdowns

Autistic Shutdown

I reached out to Introvert Doodles after the success of us collaborating on the autistic masking doodle. We spoke about how helpful a doodle about autistic shutdown would be. So here it is my words and introvert doodle amazing drawing.

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Girls Autistic Journey 🖤

Dissociation

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Dissociating 👇🏻

I often find myself dissociating, it’s often as I start to get overloaded or when I am tired, or possibly heading into burnout.

I can feel myself drifting off it’s like I am there but not fully present, it’s like my mind is just floating and in limbo, not fully present but not fully away. I hear everything but it’s like it’s kind of through a muffled and fuzzy, film or thin layer that is in front of me, or incasing me.

Then normally with a bit of body jolt or shiver or someone repeatedly calling me, whoosh and I am back. This can happen multiple times in a day. Some times it’s for seconds other times longer.

Does anyone else have this experience?

Girls Autistic Journey 🖤

Practical guide for employers to support autistic employees

 

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Practical guide for employers to support autistic employees.

I put this short guide together with hopes that autistic people could take this into their employer, in order to be better understood and gain the correct support.

I know it’s not always straight forward and easy to disclose a Autism diagnosis, remember that autistic people are very valuable in the workplace, and bring many important skills and a different perspective.

Practical Guide for employers to support autistic employees.

1. Establish the main areas that the autistic person might find challenging on a daily basis.

2. Discuss with the autistic person what their daily routine will look like, breaking down tasks if possible, provide predictability were possible. For instance if there are regular tasks that need completing then build this into the routine.

3. Have frequent discussions with the autistic person, to be sure they understand their tasks and that they are feeling able and correctly supported, in order to complete the tasks.

4. Talk to the autistic person about their work environment, is there anything that is overwhelming or affects their ability to work. Are there any areas in the work space that are quite, so if needed the autistic person can access that area. the other options are ear plugs, headphones, fidget tools, regular breaks. perhaps have a understanding that if the person is feeling totally overwhelmed they can step out of the work environment, so they can calm down and then return, when they feel able. Listen to the autistic person’s needs as they will experience the environment very differently to non autistic people.

5. Discuss and decided with the autistic person what their best form of communication will be, this could be verbal, hand written notes, emails, text message.

6. Keep communication with the autistic person simple and straight forward, (say what you mean and mean what you say). Avoid using metaphors as this can become confusing.

7. Discuss with the autistic person if they would like a work mentor, this could be someone they can get reassurance and support from, as and when needed.

8. Discuss with the autistic person if they want their work colleagues to be aware that they are autistic, and how this might present in the workplace. So that colleagues can be fully aware and supportive. This will help build confidence in the autistic person and develop acceptance in the workplace.

Produced by Girls Autistic Journey

Overload of empathy

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Feeling everything

For as long as I can remember I have always felt other people’s feelings, emotions so strongly.

It’s like I can see right inside people, this gives me a strong sense of who the person is, sometimes I get really horrible feelings which I can not explain or rationalise. It’s like I feel and see things others don’t.

I always feel so uncomfortable in these situations. Over the years I have come to trust these feelings, in my younger years I use to suppress them.

Can anyone relate?

Girls Autistic Journey 🖤

Art work by- cocorrina.co

Friendship cycles

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Friendship cycles ⭕️

I constantly go through this cycle, I reach out to make friends, it all becomes very overwhelming and so I retreat and need alone time. Friendships are very difficult for me, I Find I struggle with face to face social situations.

I find it difficult to manage; listening to conversations, then thinking how to respond, dealing with sensory triggers, all of this is so overwhelming and takes so much energy it’s exhausting.

During social situation, outwardly I don’t think I show how difficult these situations are for me. So it can be difficult for people to understand my difficulties around maintaining friendships.

I have a small circle of friends that really understand me and don’t put any expectations or demands on me, they understand and respect my feelings.

Girls Autistic Journey 🖤

Feeling lost and trying to find your real self

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Lost and found

Over the years (mainly my younger years)I became so many different people to fit in and not stand out, trying to hide and be just like everyone else.

Fracturing myself, leaving parts of myself all over the place. Remodelling myself time and time again. Knowing I had so much to offer but not knowing how to connect with others, or show my feelings, emotions and real self.

All these years later at 40 years old getting an autism diagnosis it all fitted together, I am now working on building my true self finding my passion for life!

Don’t ever fracture yourself for others, I know first hand how difficult it is not to do this. Try to catch yourself doing it and STOP!

Let your true wonderful self show through, you have so much to offer honestly you do.
Girls Autistic Journey 🖤

Artist- Lidia.cao on Instagram

Autistic centred support strategies for Adults

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This might not relate to everyone, these strategies are what I have used personally.

1. Rest- Provide yourself with regular (if possible daily) with minimum of 20 mins, in a quite safe place. This environment should have low lights and no sound, with Minimum stimulation as possible, in this time just lay down close your eyes, allowing your mind to rest and reboot.

2. Sensory- most Autistics struggle with sensory Processing Differences, this means the sensory system doesn’t process environmental stimulation stimulation correctly. Making small adjustments can better support your sensory needs. Make what I call a sensory support kit, this kit will be personal to you addressing your sensory differences. You can pack the kit to support all your senses, here are the items I think that basic kit should have; Ear plugs, music headphones, Chewigem necklace, sunglasses, chewing gum, lavender oil on a tissue. This kit can be as big or small as you like, making it totally personal for you.

3. Meltdowns- if you have a situation where you become overwhelmed, if possible give yourself space from the situation, move away from the situation. Give yourself time away from what ever has triggered the meltdown once you feel calmer, keep demands and communicate to a minimal. Your system could easy overload again.

4. Social-Take time out of social situations, I find the maximum of 1-2 social interactions a week as in high intensive, long periods of social interaction is enough for me.(everyone is different)

5. Sleep-Make sure to get enough sleep, this is very tricky for so many autistic people. Building a sleep routine is so important;
1. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night
2. Don’t have screen time iPhone, iPad, computer just before sleep, this can prevent you feeling tired
3. Use lavender (oil of choice) on your pillow to help you feel relaxed
4. Make sure the windows are well covered to prevent light waking you

6. Diet-Eat a healthy diet (not easy I know) think about what food choices you are making, and make sure you are eating regularly.

7. Routines-Build in routines to make task more manageable, for instance break tasks down. Prioritise tasks, make notes to remind you of the tasks and at what date should be completed. (I put everything on my phone calendar with an alarm)

8. Triggers- Work out what the your main triggers are, are there things that come up regularly? Or things that perhaps happen less often. Identifying these triggers is so important as this will allow you to prepare when the triggers happen. (Trigger example) having a deadline for some, this causes me to become more stressed, so I identify this give myself more quite time, breaking down the task into manageable daily tasks. This allows me to know the task will completed.

I hope some of these support ideas can support you. 

Girls Autistic Journey 🖤

Supporting yourself through a change of routine

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Change of routine and transition support strategies-

These strategies can be developed in a personal way for you, you can add in things that work for you, take out things that don’t.

This can also be used with autistic children adding in toys,bubbles, or what the child likes. (This might not work for everyone)

1. Visual or written Schedules: Visual or written schedules are sequential images or written tasks in order of your daily tasks and activities. Doing this helps to develop independence. This fosters autonomy, reduce reliance on verbal prompts and clearly depicts the tasks and activities of the day. Visual and written schedules can be used across all environments, throughout your day.

2. Visual Timers: Visual and written schedules can be accompanied by visual timers, if needed which will further help to improve transitions. They are particularly helpful, as They visually represent allotted time intervals for tasks. They can be used in combination with verbal transition warnings, as in you can say to your or the autistic person you are supporting, by saying look 5 mins left.

3. Preferred Activities: When creating your schedule consider the activities that the you likes and those activities you find more difficult or don’t like. When it comes to transitions, moving from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity can be particularly tough. A good idea if possible when designing your routine if you can move in a pattern of non-preferred activities to preferred activities, preferred activities to neutral activities, and neutral activities to non-preferred activities, this might help with transitions.

4. Transition objects When it comes to transitioning between environments, sometimes bringing a familiar item can help with anxiety in the “new environment”

5. Minimise Waiting: Waiting can be confusing (especially if it isn’t clear on how long the wait is going to last). If there is going to be a wait take distractions with you like a book.

Girls Autistic Journey 🖤

 

Supporting yourself and preventing autistic masking

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1. Respect and understand your sensory needs, making others aware of these needs. These feelings are real and valid.

2. Validate and accept your feelings, emotions allowing yourself to be honest and open about how you are feeling at that point in time.

3. Allow growth of your passion for certain interests, spending time doing what makes YOU happy not what you feel you should be doing.

4. Be open about the fact that’s it’s ok to be autistic, tell others about what being autistic is like for you, talk about all the good points. Connect with others that understand how you feel and allow you to be your true self with out judgment.

5. Consider what life demands you have, do you need all these demands and situations, it’s ok to say no and not do what others might ask you to do.

6. Know that all of this is a work in progress small steps add up and before you know it, you will have blossomed into your true authentic self.

None of this is easy and it does take lots of courage to allow your real self to be seen, always know that it’s never to late to allow yourself to find the real you!

Girls Autistic Journey  🖤

Artist-unkown