Apologises for not posting in a couple of weeks. I’ve been experiencing a great deal of stress, both in the workplace and in my personal life, so last week I went on a much needed holiday in Eyemouth, Scotland. My editor (aka my Mum, who you’ll know as guest blogger Jane) is still on holiday, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a few more days for a more factual, polished articles on Autism Spectrum Disorder. In the mean time, there’s a couple of things I want to share with you.
First of all, I recently found out about a project on Kickstarter called Autism: a Curious Case of the Human Mind by Tom Griffiths. Tom is raising money for a documentary inspired by his autistic brother, which will examine the daily challenges of autism and their effects on families supporting individuals on the spectrum. Given recent cuts to benefits, the disappearance of essential autism services and a huge waiting list for autism assessments and therapies, this is a very important issue. Family members often end up providing services for young people with autism that should be provided by the social services or NHS. While some might argue this care is the responsibility of family members, providing things like speech therapy and dealing with meltdowns can put a huge strain on parent child relationships, eventually leading to resentment. It breaks my heart every time I hear my Mum describe herself as ‘the primary career of someone with autism’. I don’t want her to be my primary career, I just want her to be my Mum. I’d like to urge you to support Tom’s project, as I hope it will raise awareness of the need for autism services to take the pressure off families, allowing individuals with ASD to enjoy a normal parent/child relationship regardless of their additional needs. You can click on this link to donate to Autism: A Curious Case of the Human Mind:
There’s lot’s of other autism related projects on Kickstarter, including Autism Really Does Speak and Arts and Crafts Centre for Autism, both of which intend to use the creative arts to soothe people on the spectrum and help with sensory issues. I’ve spoken before about the therapeutic value of poetry writing and arts and crafts for people on the spectrum, and I’d like to reiterate that now. Poetry writing can provide an outlet for emotions, improve self awareness and encourage people with autism to look for the beauty in an often baffling world. Arts and Crafts are good for improving fine and gross motor skills, self expression and providing something concrete to focus on that distracts the brain from stressful thoughts. I’ve spoken to a lot of adults with high functioning autism who said that during stressful months they simply cannot focus on activities like reading or watching tv because their brains won’t slow down enough for them to sit still. When I’m watching tv I like to make jewellery, make notebooks, sew or use my art therapy colouring book. This helps me relax, avoid too much snacking and means I’ve done something productive with my time binge watching Orange is the New Black. It would be great if I could just switch off in front of the telly for hours on end like I used to… but at the momment that’s not possible without a huge amount of alcohol. Art therapies can be a useful alternative to the anti psychotic medicine that’s often prescribed to people with autism, and are easier and cheaper than more conventional forms of therapy, such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which tends to come with either a six month waiting list or a £40 fee per session. You can find out more about the art therapy autism projects on Kickstarter by following the link below. Please donate if you can:
While on holiday in Scotland I wrote lots of poetry inspired by the gorgeous Scottish coast line and the savage beauty of the sea. Some of that material will be going into volume two of The Poetry of Autism, which I’m currently working on. While in Scotland we were blessed with warm weather, but this did sometimes cause me sensory processing issues, particularly light sensitivity, which a lot of people on the autism spectrum suffer from. (At least it was sunny, so no stranger’s came up to me and asked why I was wearing sunglasses!) I wrote this poem about the experience, which I’d like to share with you. It’s still in the early stages, so feel free to offer feedback:
Shards of Light
I take off my sunglasses
And the sun splinters
Into a million shards of light,
Their sharp edges embedding in my eyes
Like white hot needles.
Sand, sea and sky
Are trapped within a single,
Separate slither of light,
The picture never becoming whole.
I hope you’re all well. I’ll be back in a few days with an article on the recovery models used by the NHS and how they can benefit people with autism.