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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

The Power of the Home Environment for Autistics

Living alone has been one of the most deeply healing and transformative experiences of my life.


I was single and living alone through the pandemic, which meant I spent a lot of time in my home, by myself.


It was a wonderful opportunity to learn what I felt like doing. It was also a chance to shape my physical environment to my exact preferences. I had the time to do so, and I didnt have to justify myself to anyone.


I painted my kitchen orange because I love the boost of energy it gives me. My kitchen is connected to my living room, which is where I do my artistic work and writing. I want that extra energy.


I made my bedroom a sea of soft blues. I want to peacefully drift to sleep in there.


Every space of my house is cultivated with pictures, items, and organization systems to enhance how I feel.


Autistic art therapist Jackie Schuld shares a collage of an abstract image and the word "space"
Collage by Jackie Schuld

Autistic individuals are hyper-attuned to their environments. While this is normally touted as a negative thing, it is also something that can be used to our advantage. In my case, I tailor my environment to give me the feelings that I want.


My home is so beloved that I let very few people in it. It is my sacred space tailored exactly to me. When I want to socialize, I typically meet people outside my home, such as on a hike, at a restaurant, or at my art therapy studio.


I like to keep my home free from other’s opinions or any unexpected conversations or events. As an autistic person, I can vividly recall the environments where painful conversations or things happened. I do not want to look around my home and see those things. I want to associate solely positive things with my home.


My relationship with my home works well for me. It sustains me. It provides a place of refuge.


I am moving into a new phase with my home though. In the future, I will move in with my partner. We will share a home together.


What will it mean to share decisions? What if he wants to invite someone home I do not feel comfortable with? What if he wants a certain painting up because he likes how it makes him feel, but it doesn’t feel good to me? What if I want the furniture a certain way because when I sit the light isn’t as glaring … but he doesn’t like it that way?


What will it mean for my strong preferences to be questioned? For example, after my mom died, I couldn't stand to look at the color blue. I bought a yellow comforter and changed the decor of everything around me. What if my partner can’t stand the color yellow?


Let me be clear, I am perfectly capable of getting along with others. I am capable of setting my preferences aside to co-exist.


However, my home is the one place I have not had to do that. The one place I don’t have to think about anyone else and can just be. It means it is the one place I can fully decompress.


What will it mean to not have that anymore?


I don’t have answers for a reality I have not yet lived. I have trust in my partner. I have hope in our ability to find solutions. For I know the power of the home environment for an autistic.

 

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.



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