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Self Care for Autistic Folk




What do you think about when you reflect on the word ‘self care’? It’s a pretty loaded word, isn’t  it?

 

Self care for autistic people might look quite different…


For me, it’s not about drinking green smoothies (like my husband tries to get me to drink). Foul! 🤢 And no, it’s not about getting my nails done, having a cup of tea, or using a mindfulness app (boring!)


💅🏼 No!

🍵 No!

🧘‍♀️ No!


I promise I won't use hashtags like #blessed or #pamperyourself 😂


When I was younger, I got annoyed hearing about the topic of ‘self-care’. Firstly, it sounded so clichéd 🙄 But it also sounded impossible, I would say to myself. And a waste of time..... I have so many things to do! 🏃🏻‍♀️


I'm someone who did my first masters degree full time whilst working full time in my 20s 🚀 I use to run on high adrenaline. But my second masters degree took me 5 years part time- post kids! Finally, I was forced to slow down. 🧑‍🧒


Part of the issue here is that ‘self-care’ for neurodivergent people often looks different from ‘self-care’ for neurotypical people ≠


We need more downtime time because we live in a world that’s exhausting for us- sensory-wise, people-wise and life-wise 🫠


Right. Let’s begin then with energy accounting 𓍝


Many neurodivergent people have chronic fatigue, burnout, and chronic pain (I have all three, given I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome 🦓). We have reduced interoception and alexithymia (combined, this means we don’t know we’re burnout until we are already pushed to the limits). So many of us live in the "Boom-or-Bust" cycle, but we can learn to reduce how bad this cycle can get.


Energy accounting is simple. It’s about saying: ‘can I afford (energy wise) to do a certain task?’ It’s a bit like a bank account with deposits and withdrawals💰. So are we in the red? 🟥 Can I afford this withdrawal? 🧐


Energy accounting is also similar to the good old 'spoons theory' 🥄 We all have a set number of spoons each day (sometimes none at all). We need to use them carefully, or we will run out, and have no spoons left 🚫


This is simple, but powerful when applied.


True self care is about being able to explore and understand your own needs and then trying to get your needs met ❤️


Self-care can be about reducing contact with a friend or family member who is not a neurodivergent ally, or is unkind 🖕


It can be about focusing on your SPIN because it relaxes you 😌


It can be about using your preferred way of communicating 📩


It can be about low sensory time and predictability (keeping a set routine, often using noise cancelling earphones, wearing comfortable clothes, eating safe and familiar foods, etc) 🔄


So- can you afford the hit of a particular social interaction? A certain stressful environment? Being around a person who isn’t an ally?


Food for thought.

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