Autism and Love, One

Autism and Love

Let’s say your brain was such that life seemed overwhelming and

you

just

didn’t want

to

interact with anyone outside of yourself.

They call it autistic, but, you just want to be alone.

Things are more interesting than people, much of the time

and “stimming” a repeated over and over movement

is the only way to shut out the overstimulating

and

get a sense of control in a world

where you seemed to have none.

And then, you have a parent, or other person, and then:

they leave you alone, that’s okay

or

they try to fix you and change you or stop your stemming

and that doesn’t make sense

or

they sit down with you, and join in, as if what you are doing makes

sense

to them.

This feels good.

You feel like maybe they are alright. You feel like maybe they understand you and that you are alright.

Maybe this being alive thing isn’t so bad, after all.

Maybe they are worth noticing or smiling at or at least sneaking a look at.

And then, sometimes you have a “good day,” where you are

interested in these other people

you like them

and smile

and look at them

and they get happy about that,

and ask for more,

in gentle and fun ways,

that make you feel like joining them even more.

Then life isn’t so bad:

if you want to be alone, they “join” you, but don’t punish, or try to fix or ignore you

and if you want to come out, they get excited and help it be even nicer for you

It seems you win, no matter what.

Now,

let’s do an adult version, but from the point of view not of the person

who is either

“having a bad day”

or

“having a good day”

but from the point of view of a person who wants to be

a good mate

a good lover

a better friend

to their partner ( or normal child, or friend).

So, your partner is having a bad day,

they don’t “stim,” they don’t sit on the floor and rock

for hours,

but they clearly aren’t feeling good.

As a friend we have the same three choices:

ignore them ( sometimes adult mates just do need “space”)

or try to fix them

as in

cheer up. or

tell me your problem and I’ll give a solution

or scold them: you always get in this mood

or

demand: when are you going to shape up

(this is very common, really, in most grumbling marriages)

Or, as their lover or friend,

you can either leave them alone, as suggested first,

or do the adult equivalent of “joining”

you can ask them what’s going on

or can be sympathetic to why they are feeling as they are feeling

you can encourage them to really talk it through

you can hug and hold and rock them, and demand no quick fix

you can stroke them

you can sit quietly in their company

letting them know you’re ready to be with them, when they are ready

and then,

or other days,

their ‘good mood’ days,

you make sure to join that

to celebrate,

to play, to tease, to dance,

to ask for something you’re both a little lazy to

get to,

like going out dancing

or to a party,

you help them get even happier in their happiness

(you don’t neglect, again, fairly common. as in, “I’m so busy, they’re in a good mood, no need to put any attention and energy their way.”)

This is a big topic, and I hope this is a start to get us all thinking on

how to love our partners better

and

how to serve our autistic children better.

The keys is mindfulness,

being awake to what we are feeling,

being awake in the moment to what the child is feeling,

and then being a bit brave,

not fixing,

but connecting,

not ignoring and taking for granted,

but connecting.

That’s what we all want, love and connection.

I’m in Austin. I work with families and children.

I can talk to you if you want to talk.

Chris Elms at 360-317-4773

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