Saturday, July 19, 2014
So my son was diagnosed with Autism at the beginning of 2014. (Would have been Aspergers if the term was still being used.) I had suspected it for a while, so it wasn't a huge surprise. I had started to learn some things about it, but began a greater search for things after he was diagnosed that would help my son.
One thing I have learned in that search is how his senses are much more sensitive than mine. And also that his ability to filter out all the information his senses are sending him can be very difficult. For me, if someone is talking to me, I can focus on them, but my son would hear the ticking clock, the dog barking, feel how hot it was in a room, smell the funny smell, and be bothered by the tag in his shirt, without knowing which thing was most important to pay attention to. Because of that, it is easy for him to become overwhelmed. And when that happens he can go into his autistic world, with only the things he wants to let in and with his own set of rules to follow. It is his defense against what he is feeling. This makes things hard at school, if when the class is too noisy, he can't handle his work because he is overwhelmed and begins to wander the classroom looking at the I-pads (he loves technology). And yet to force him to do work, when he is so overwhelmed by his senses can almost be painful. But remove the things that are overwhelming and he can do his work much easier.
Now I look at myself, and realize although I am not autistic that I can relate to how he feels. Because when I become overwhelmed by to do lists, stresses, or worries, I try to block it out to. In my world, that usually means, TV, facebook, games on my phone, and food. I'm also trying to block out what is painful. And when someone tries to ask me to do something else, or I try to convince myself to live healthy rules when I'm defending myself against the overwhelm it doesn't work. It is hard to learn something or do something else when you feel you are in defense mode, because then you just want what makes you feel safe, or comfortable and you don't care about anythings else, like what your weight is, what you are eating, or if you did exercise that day or not.
Upon coming to understand a little more about my son and what he is experiencing has helped me see why I may also be doing the same sort of thing. So now I just have to work on changing the rules in my little world to healthier ones, or learn how to keep myself out of defense mode, where I can follow the habits that I should be doing and make progress instead of always regressing, quitting, and starting over. I think that is why I keep starting challenges but never really succeed. I hit that overwhelm and stop trying, and hide out in my comfortable world instead. And since life is constantly full of challenges it is often easier to hide out where it is comfortable than where it is not. But no more. This is a new journey now. I have an autistic child to help and to learn from, and in the process I may also learn a lot about helping myself as well.
There never will be a time where life is completely easy, and if I keep waiting for that to happen, I will never be healthy. It is time to get out of defense mode, become uncomfortable and get to work.