Do you or someone you know lives with Autism?
For those unaware of this term, Autism is a condition that impacts how a person discerns and socializes with other people. The condition causes difficulty in social interaction and communication in general. It is related to the brain development of a person and also linked with limited and repetitive behavioral patterns.
What is it like to live with Autism?
The condition of Autism is a spectrum, which is to say there’s a wide array of symptoms and their seriousness. It also ranges from low functioning to high functioning people with Autism.
There is a lot of diversity that has been noted amongst people on the spectrum about when their symptoms start to show. Some show signs of reduced eye contact, not responding to their names, and apathy towards their caregivers, during infancy.
Then there are other children who develop symptoms after growing for a few months or years. However, it is at 2 years of age that the signs are usually seen. It has also been noted that females with this condition tend to mask their symptoms.
Children in both these ranges experience trouble in communicating and adjusting to social situations, but range from fast to slow ability in learning.
Experiences in Autism
One of the common experiences in children with Autism is the feeling of being overwhelmed. In social situations, sensitivity to sounds, and feeling confused when someone expresses their anger at them, especially in regards to a social situation.
A Netflix show called Atypical beautifully traces the journey of Sam, the protagonist, who is a high school kid with Autism. Episode by episode, we see Sam living with autism, the difficulties he faces, the difficulty his parents face as caregivers. And his journey to becoming more and more adaptable to social surroundings with help and empathy from his close ones.
We see Sam going to college, taking one step at a time in regards to being less and less dependent. The most enjoyable part of the show is Sam’s love for penguins. His curiosity leading to a detailed knowledge of them, and his wonderful sketches of penguins. Always hoping to communicate the essence of penguins with those sketches.
A strong connection with animals is a trait in most people on the Autism spectrum.
Autism From A Spiritual Lens
The book Autism and the God Connection: Redefining the Autistic Experience Through Extraordinary Accounts of Spiritual Giftedness by the author William Stillman. It is an exceptional narration of anecdotes of people on the Autism spectrum, and their spiritual gifts, their deep connection with nature and animals. The book is an amalgamation of his personal experiences, support for caregivers, and anecdotes of psychic experiences of children on the spectrum and their caregivers.
Recommended Reading: 10 Signs That You May Be a Psychic
Stillman categorizes himself as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome.(a higher level on the Autistic spectrum). And opens up about his curiosity about nature and spirituality as a child, and a deep connection with animals.
Growing up, he realized that he was not alone in this experience. He expresses the purpose of his book in these words-
“to enlighten others about a unique and glorious facet of the autistic experience” and to crush “myths and stereotypes about such experiences being a product of intellectual impairment or mental illness”.
Julie Hudson’s Journey of Autism and Inner Work
It is an irrefutable fact that our spiritual paths are progressed through immense inner work. Susie Beiler, a YouTuber who creates videos on spirituality, interviewed Julie Hudson, a woman with Autism, in her video “The Spirituality of Autism”.
Hudson beautifully narrates her story of discovering that she has autism, accepting her condition. As a part of her and not what defines her, and learning to establish boundaries. She puts, “We all have different levels of what we can take.”
She further goes on to explain how one person can stay at a party or a public gathering for a long time and feel energized. While the other might feel drained with elongated social interaction.
She expresses, “Honor what the body needs,” and goes on to gracefully deliver how all of us deserve it. All-the self-care, the boundaries, the rejuvenation, however, we may find ours. After years of inner work, she lives in the power of her authenticity and love for herself. Rather than being put into any boxes, or being told she needs to “try harder” or loosen up to be better at socializing and communication.
“You cannot draw water from an empty well”
It has been noted that the caregivers of children with Autism may feel guilty for not doing ‘enough’ for the child. But it’s imperative, even empowering to focus on what you actually do in the relationship. You may often lose yourself in compassion fatigue and burnout, and even forget the things you like to do.
Recommended Reading: How much of Giving is Kind Enough?
Indeed, intuition and empathy are the superpowers of a caregiver. However, perhaps, their hardest lesson to learn is balance. To not lose themselves in the process of doing and giving, to save some for themselves, and honor their own needs, too.
How are you honoring your needs today? Share with us in the comments below!