Looking back it seems obvious that drumming was going to be such a good fit for me. At school I was that kid who was always playing with his hands, tapping on a desk, or a wall, or a lunchbox, or anything really. I didn’t enjoy school for the most part; I survived it. Each day started and ended with a 45 minute minibus journey. I would spend that time lost inside my headphones. Retransmitting the beat of the music by tapping on my legs. Tensing my muscles or flexing my toes. Except I wasn’t really lost. I needed this time to prepare for the next part of my day, it was essential to my survival.
I am an autistic woman, I have been working in the autism field as a mentor, adviser and advocate for many years but I trained as a Pilates teacher in 2016 with the aim of providing more autism friendly teaching and classes.
It was May 2018, I was stood in a car park surrounded by a ton of other people, questioning what was I doing here. Lets rewind for a moment. My mother had decided to secretly sign me up for a Couch to 5K running class with a local running club. I was furious, but I went along to see what it was all about.
As I walk inside from the side door, dogs in tow, I look to my right and see it. The red light on the coffee maker is still on and I take a deep breath and smile to myself. If today is the kind of day that I can have a second cup, and it is, the coffee left in the pot will still be the perfect temperature. It will be hot, but with just the right amount of creamer, it will cool down just enough to be palatable while still remaining warm enough for the steam to build up in my glasses as I tilt the mug to my mouth for that first sip. This idyllic temperature cannot be replicated by microwave oven nor does it remain for long. Today, the stars have aligned. This morning, my husband has his own stuff to accomplish, leaving me alone to do some computer time that does not include a single meeting with anyone. As I pour that second cup and listen to the sugar dissolve into the dark liquid, I think to myself, today is going to be a particularly good day.
The stale stench of the changing rooms, lit with furious fluorescent lighting that felt like lasers when I looked at them, mixed with the laughter of my peers ricocheting around my brain, it was a recipe for sensory overwhelm.
Often seen as an elderly person’s hobby, gardening and it’s benefits to health can often be overlooked. With benefits to physical health, mental health and emotional health, I truly believe we should be discussing its value in holistic care for those with chronic illness, mental illness and disability.