Autism, a complex neurodevelopmental condition, embraces a rich tapestry of diversity. As we delve into the variability of autism from day to day, it becomes increasingly important to celebrate and accept the authenticity of autistic individuals. So why do we often hear, “You don’t look autistic.”
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the day-to-day fluctuations experienced by individuals with Autism, it is crucial to adopt a holistic approach. One that values authenticity and recognises neurodiversity. When we question why a task appears challenging for an autistic person on one day but relatively simple on another, we must take into account various factors. This includes the environment, sensory regulation, and all other defining aspects. This is because an autistic individual’s perspective and ability to tolerate their surroundings can vary from day to day or even from hour to hour.
Understanding the unique genetic makeup and inherent traits that define Autistic individuals helps us create a nurturing environment. That, in turn, promotes healthy mental and physical well-being. Based on this, it is important to explore the factors contributing to the apparent increase of autistic traits on certain days. While emphasising the significance of neuro-affirming language, acceptance, and celebrating autistic traits.
The Complexity of Masking
Masking, viewed as a coping mechanism, can have adverse effects on the mental and emotional well-being of autistic individuals. The majority of autistic individuals engage in masking, often not by choice but out of necessity, as they strive to fit into a world primarily designed for neurotypical individuals. The prevalence of stigma, lack of acceptance, and barriers in social and employment settings contribute to the reasons why autistic individuals feel compelled to mask.
Recognising the importance of authenticity means appreciating that autistic traits are not something to be hidden or suppressed. Instead, encouraging and accepting these traits fosters an environment where individuals can be their true selves. By promoting neuro-affirming language and practices, we create a space where autistic individuals feel empowered to express themselves authentically, without the need to conform to neurotypical norms.
Understanding masking can somewhat address the whole, “You don’t look Autistic” scenario.
Sensory Overwhelm: Cultivating Sensory-Friendly Environments
Autistic individuals often experience heightened or reduced sensitivity to sensory stimuli. Acknowledging and respecting these differences is crucial for creating sensory-friendly environments. By embracing neurodiversity and understanding that autistic sensory experiences are valid, we can work towards minimising overwhelming stimuli. Providing options for sensory breaks, using adaptive lighting and sound, and incorporating individual preferences can help reduce sensory overload and promote well-being
The reactions to sensory stimuli can vary from day to day or even hour to hour for autistic individuals, depending on various contributing factors. Factors such as fatigue, safety concerns, sensory overwhelm, and anxiety play a role in how they process their sensory environment.
Just because an autistic individual could tolerate a specific environment on one day, it doesn’t mean they are being dishonest when they communicate that the same environment is intolerable on another day.Anita Aherne
Inclusion practices and accommodations should be implemented to support their changing needs and ensure their well-being.
The Fatigue Factor: Embracing Self-Care and Balance
Fatigue and burnout are common challenges for individuals on the autism spectrum. Recognising the importance of self-care and understanding personal limits is critical. Therefore it is vital to maintain well-being and encourage autistic individuals to engage in activities that support their needs. This could be practicing self-soothing techniques or taking breaks when necessary. This allows them to recharge and find balance. Emphasising the value of self-advocacy and self-acceptance helps manage fatigue and prevent burnout.
Embracing authenticity celebrates the unique qualities and strengths of autistic individuals, recognising that autism encompasses a diverse range of experiences. Furthermore shifting our perspective and valuing neurodiversity, we create inclusive spaces. These spaces foster the exploration of talents and interests, promoting pride and self-worth.
Using neuro-affirming language, creating sensory-friendly environments, and supporting self-care and self-advocacy all contribute to well-being and prevent burnout. By embracing authenticity, we acknowledge and appreciate the valuable contributions that everyone brings to the table including, autistic individuals. Let us celebrate neurodiversity and work towards a community that uplifts everyone. And let’s address the whole “You don’t look Autistic” comments and opinions head on with acceptance.