People often ask me why it matters to have a label like “autistic.” I explain that the name “autistic” provides an individual with a new framework of seeing and understanding themselves. Most late-identified autistics shift from feeling “broken” to realizing they are fine as they are. It’s a very transformative experience.
Identifying as autistic also provides a person with access to new information and communities. They can more accurately search for people with lived experiences and ideas for how to navigate the world as an autistic.
Since learning I am autistic, I’ve been amassing strategies to work with my autistic mind. I used to think I needed to change my mind. I kept thinking I could somehow change the way my brain perceived the world and the large influx of emotions and thoughts. I tried all the strategies therapists recommended, and they didn’t work (see my essay Common Therapy Advice That is Counter-Productive for Autistics).
Learning I was autistic helped me to accept my brain as is and learn to work WITH it.
What does that mean? It means MANY things. That can look like shaping the external environment to meet my sensory needs. It can look like altering my daily schedule so that I have less social meetings in a day. It can be honoring when I need some downtime and space from others.
The amount of strategies and ideas are really endless. I’m constantly picking up new ideas from books, podcasts, articles, and my clients. I’m now a therapist who specializes in late-identified autism, and my clients frequently have brilliant strategies they’ve developed for themselves.
Ideas are great on paper, but they primarily make a difference when we try them out. Some make little, barely perceptible differences in my life - like using a visual timer, while others alter my entire life - like capping myself at seeing only three clients a day to honor my energetic capacity.
I try to capture this wide variety of strategies and my experiences with them in my writing. You can see some of my recent essays about strategies below:
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