Would You like to experience autism?
Episode (3) : Your Anxiety, Uncertainty
and your need for Sameness and Routine
In the last Module you got to experience the desire to remain Withdrawn, away from the Real World, to escape its sensory and other assaults.In your Own World, you were distanced from it all, quieter and safer.
Do not forget though, we all Withdraw, we are all autistic to a degree. Milder versions of it include almost continually engaging in some form of entertainment, like watching TV and movies, reading books, ‘escapist’ self-indulgence like food-for-fun, and alcohol-use to name a few, all designed to remove you from the harsh Real World for a while.
So here you are, quiet and safe. “Do not Disturb”. Except it’s not that easy..! Things are happening outsideYour World that still impact on you.
(And of course you are still drawn to the Real World, even if in a muted fashion. It exerts a sense of curiosity in you, in a scary sort of way.)
People (and events) keep intruding on you. Why do people insist on drawing you away from your peaceful Own World? One reason is your safety; there might be danger that you don’t understand –“don’t poke that fork in the power socket!”, Or people might call-on you – at any moment – to do things: co-operate, interact, assist in some way, even if you don’t understand what the requirements exactly are. They are Real-World-facing things, and sometimes you are dragged out to engage in them, whether you want to or not.
And being Withdrawn you are not in a position to know When-These-Demands-Will-Happen-Next, though everyone else seems to run to a pattern, to know what is going to happen, which can lead you to feeling left-out, inferior.
(As an aside, it is said that Lewis Carroll the author of Alice in Wonderland, was more autistic than most, and I can believe it. The characters he describes in that World did unexpected, scary and perplexing things, there was an expected “pattern of future happenings” which they all understood, but Alice (and you, the reader), did not. I think Lewis is re-living his younger more autistic childhood experiences of confusion and uncertainty. Naturally of course he became more capable and confident as an adult, and so can your Child!)
So you feel anxious about what will happen next, the sudden demands, and you feel apprehension about how to quickly cope with what might suddenly force itself on you.
Apart from not knowing when people will drag you from your Own World next, there is another big area of anxiety:
you might soon be faced with moresensory overwhelm, so naturally you feel anxious as to when it might happen, and in what form it might appear.
How do we explore such feelings ourselves? As an allegory, how about blindfolding yourself, so as not to know what will happen next? (this is not to say your Child has eyesight problems, mine has the eyes of an eagle, but the uncertain feelings of being blindfolded are in many ways similar.)
It would be best if there are two of you present to do this exercise, one can blindfold and keep an eye on the other as he or she walks about to ensure no serious danger occurs, but don’t hold or guide, that’s too much help!
Maybe the sighted partner could sometimes brush your face with a leaf unexpectedly, blow sharply in your ear or poke your stomach. Or stand in front and put a cushion in your way. Do that for a while, say a few minutes. Hard to predict what will happen next, isn’t it!
Well, (take off your blindfold), you may have coped OK, but for days, weeks, months non-stop?
And worse, you don’t know any other kind of life, your uncertainty is never-ending because you have never experienced any alternative way of life.
Consider this: if you were indeed a blind person, you would set up a Routine of what to expect: where things are, what is likely to happen next. And that will reduce your Anxiety and Apprehension a lot! By creating Routines you are also imposing your own “will-to-order”, by personally prescribing what is to come next. (Imagine how you feel if someone unexpectedly moves your things into different places, and how outraged you feel – that topic is covered under Need for Control and Fury at losing it)
So no wonder you, as a more-autistic person, want Sameness! The more predictable you can make the future, the less Anxious and Apprehensive you will be, and the more quietly happy you can remain in your Own World.
No wonder you create your own Routines: in order to retain some little control over what is going on, you construct rigid Routines; with structures you have set up, you know how they proceed and you know how they end. At least here there is predictability and certainty. Woe betide anyone who gets in the way of your one method of keeping your sanity!
If Others provide you with Routines, that can also be good.
Visual Routinesare often the best for you, because – had you noticed -?
when you were practicing being Withdrawn in the previous Module, words and sounds might have made no sense to you, but had somebody shoved a picture in front of you, that would have probably made sense.
It seems the visual modality is the one best accessed even when Withdrawn / distracted.
You might also realise that the Structures and Pictures we are talking about here, to take away your Anxiety somewhat, are in fact crutches to help you cope while living in your Own World. We are making things more comfortable, but we are not addressing the real cause of the Anxiety, which is Withdrawal, the state that brought about your inability to predict the future in the first place.
If you can be brought out of your Withdrawal, you will be better-able to see the way things really are. This better clarity, this more accurate interpreting of what you see, then leads to better predicting of what will happen next. Better-predicting will drastically reduce your uncertainty and anxiety,and is a core aim of Real World Training.
Note that it does not involve forcing Real-World-facing onto our Children, but instead knowing what desirable incentives will encourage them to do that facing, combined with proper preparation before the Entering, and resting afterwards, whenever needed, part of which includes deliberate returning to Own World after the exercise.
The Junior Real World Training Modules for ages 0-8 are now available from the Home Page of this Website.
They deal with the more rudimentary elements of training, namely incentivising your Child to want to visit the Real World from an early age, at least more often than he.she does currently. The more pivotal and extensive Real World Training for Older Children will be available when I have time – unfortunately I am not the recipient of any grant and am fitting this in when I can.
You can show your support and hasten the creation of future modules by engaging in the Junior Training, if it applies to you.
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