EXCESSIVE TALKING

Excessive talking is a common autistic trait.

For my family excessive talking is for two reasons.

The first being you are excited about a particular topic.

The second is the most likely reason which is to process information.

Talking through a certain situation can help process the information in a format that makes sense.
Giving the how, who, why and what.

Mum and I usually do this around social situations or situations that have caused anxiety or stress.
Each time we talk about it, our brains break it down into more bite size pieces making each element easier to understand.

Others around us who don’t understand our need to process often say, “Stop rehashing it, or stop bringing it up or …. just do what Elsa did in frozen, just let it go”. 

These reactions from others give the impression that our feelings or struggles to process and make sense of an event not justified or unimportant.
Feeling undervalued and not to be able to have closure on particular situations can cause a whole mixed bag of catastrophic emotions.

 Summer


AUSTISTIC BURN OUT

Practicing self-care can prevent autistic burn out or reduce the extent of burn out and recovery time.

As a young autistic it’s important that I listen to my body and recognise my body signals alerting me of the start of burn out.

I have been busy working on multiple projects combined with excitement and anxiety from our moving decision.

I know I need to practice self-care when I start twisting and locking my body into positions that give me deep pressure and sensory feedback.

I know I need to practice self care when I tire easily and find difficulty focusing .

Listening to your body signals is something a whole family can work on and learn together.

 Summer


Navigating an environment that is overstimulating

One my most challenging parts about being autistic is navigating an environment that is overstimulating.

My brain and body has to work extra hard to block out or process everything going on around me.

I have to self-regulate my body and emotional reactions.

Everything most people experience such as smell, noise, light, touch and emotions, I experience it 100 times more.
Managing large crowds and noise at times can be very difficult.

I find following conversations with excess noise in the background difficult and often am confused.

I have learnt ways to self-regulate however the next day I feel mentally drained and fatigued.

I need to rest and recover from what I call a social hangover.

It’s important to understand and identify your own limits.

 Summer


AUTISTIC FRIENDSHIPS

Have you ever noticed that most TV shows and movie plots are usually around a group of friends?

Or a guy with a girlfriend who has a friend. 

Society has romanticize what friendship looks like.

It’s depicted as this enjoyable, obvious, and achievable thing. 

Most conversation starters are what did you do with your friends over the weekend? 

All of the sudden I feel like a huge failure because I have to admit I have a lack of friends.

Admitting I do not have friends, in front others who already labelled me the strange kid, now I am the strange friendless kid.

I felt pressured to conform to what others view to be socially successful. I was so desperate to find friends, that I settled for friends that didn’t respect or value me. I think society has unrealistic expectations on what friendship is or what friendship looks like for autistics. 

To be honest hanging out with a group for an extended amount of time is mentally draining for me. If autistics do not feel safe or fully accepted by the group, they will continually mask and hide their true authentic self.

Masking long term risks potential autistic burn out. I think autistic teens like myself who struggle with friendships or connecting with others their own age should focus on finding people with like-minded interests through activities.

Focusing on company rather than friendships. If friendship is meant to happen it will happen in a relaxed environment, with minimal expectations.

Where we can be our true selves, that’s when we shine best. 

Summer


Is able to maintain eye contact, making autism unlikely’ – outdated stereotypes

I found an old medical report;  ‘ Is able to maintain eye contact, making autism unlikely’ 

This comment is inaccurate and often contributes to outdated stereotypes on ‘what autism looks like’ I can make and keep eye contact with those I trust, or I feel they understand me.

I do not keep eye contact when I am listening simply because I am concentrating on what you are saying. 

If I look at your face when you are talking, I am distracted by your facial expressions, I then try to process your facial expressions into meaning. 

While I am doing this, I guarantee you I am not listening 

I listen with my ears not my eyes, this doesn’t mean I am not listening.  

Summer


MELTDOWN IN CLASS

I had a meltdown in class last year as a result of repressed trauma, the trigger was the entire term content and topic.
Friendships 
Teacher:
Summer what makes you a good friend?
Me:
*silence*

Teacher:
Come on Summer, surely you have friends?
Me:
*further silence*

Teacher:
Don’t you have any friends?

Me:
*In front of my entire class * Nothing I do makes me a good friend.

Teacher:
What do you mean? don’t you know what qualities you need to be a good friend?

Me:
I do not have any qualities that makes a good friend

Teacher:
What? so you don’t have any other kids your own age that you hang out with?

Me:
No
* Meltdown is now in full swing *

There is a lack of understanding within our communities around autistics and their abilities to navigate the social world.

I appear to communicate effectively and appear outgoing, so its automatically presumed that I do not need support.
Friendship has always been a mystery to me.

I remember thinking how can you tell if someone is your friend? because everyone has a different concept of what friendship is.

In the past I have valued friendship more than what the other person has.

When someone decides instantly not to be your friend. I became confused , hurt and struggled to make sense of it all.
I’ve been bullied by kids that I thought were my friends.
Over time I closed myself off to the thought of having friends my own age.

All my friends are currently adults they are more predictable, the conversations are more in-depth and I feel they understand me better, I feel safe.
Unfortunately, this scenario isn’t uncommon.

I feel that if there was a better understanding within education system on, how best to support students.
How to best facilitate strategies for students who have challenges navigating friendships.
Things may have turned out differently for me if I was understood by those around me.
Even better let’s start with installing the concept of acceptance of differences, so eventually they are no longer differences, they become a way of life.

Summer


What is it like to have an autistic parent?

I asked my Mum what it was like growing up as an undiagnosed autistic?

Her response was,” I felt misunderstood and always felt like I didn’t belong”.

My Mum moved around a lot when she was a kid, she said each move meant that she could take on a new identity.

A new identity meant that maybe this time it will be someone that others could connect with.
Because she felt that no one seemed to like the real her.
She said over time she forgot who she really was, burying her true self down deep inside.

Kristy Forbes – Autism & ND Support did a post today igniting this conversation.

Would having an earlier diagnosis or even knowing that my mother was autistic at an earlier age made any difference?

Knowledge is power.

My Mum grew up thinking that there was something wrong with her. She said at times she thought she was just bat crap crazy.

Having my diagnosis wasn’t an excuse for it was a reason for.

Now I have a diagnosis
I can now start to understand myself, accept myself and begin to embrace my true authentic self.

*** This photo is of my Mum hiding her identity, I thought it was very fitting photo for this post .***

 Summer


Published by Autistic Perspectives

__________ Summer Farrelly is 15-year-old Autistic Advocate, Public speaker, Inclusion & Education Consultant, Artist, Chicken Whisperer, Animal Assisted Learning Program Creator & Facilitator , Animal Therapies LTD Ambassador and The A List Ambassador. A daughter of a late diagnosed autistic mother and a sister of two autistic brothers. Summer believes her lived experience as an autistic individual and living within a family that consists of multiple autistic members, each with their own complexities, will provide both a relatable and diverse perspective For the last 5 years Summer has been sharing her personal insight and the benefits of human and animal connection. Often stepping out of her comfort zone sharing vulnerable, raw, and real moments of life challenges faced by young autistic teens in hope to educate and inspire others. Summer has become a recognised and valued contributor within the Animal Assisted Learning and Therapy platforms. Summer’s connection with animals has provided her with the strength needed to navigate life as an autistic teen who faces daily challenges of self-harm, ADD, PTSD, anxiety, Reactive depression, and Dyslexia. Summer’s journey is about understanding herself emotionally through their connection with animals more importantly this journey is about understanding herself and practicing self-care. About Animal Assisted Learning Program ‘Chickens to Love’ Summer developed Animal Assisted Learning Program Chickens to Love for Autistic and other Neurodivergent people (this includes anyone who may be ADHD, ADD, ABI or anyone whose brain is not considered “typical”). I created Chickens to Love as an inclusive program, to benefit everyone and include everyone, because neurodiversity is part of biodiversity. We all can benefit from understanding ourselves, our emotions, and the perspectives of others. Our communities must understand and learn the importance of a deeper level of compassion, empathy, and acceptance of differences. Neurodivergent people, are often encouraged or forced to fit in to everyone else’s way of seeing the world. The Cultivation of self-esteem in ones self-starts with self-love, self-acceptance and having the ability to embrace one’s true authentic self. Chickens to Love is designed from a neurodivergent and animal (Chicken) perspective to better understand social dynamics, emotions (ours and other people’s), other people’s perspectives, consent, respectful touch, resilience, self-acceptance, empowerment and how to self-advocate. Animals can change our lives. Never underestimate the power of them!

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