As an autistic person with hypermobile EDS and other chronic conditions, the world can often be an uncomfortable place. Having what Florence Neville refers to as a “safe-space to retreat to” is essential for my wellbeing, and I have designed my entire home to be such a self-accommodating sanctuary. It is the one place in the world where I can feel at ease in my body without thinking about it. Out in the real world, I am very much in support of visible/any and all accommodations, but I want my home to be a place where I do not have to be reminded of my body’s challenges.
Autism HWB Note: Nutrition is highly individualized and diets that work well for some people can be dangerous for others. Please consult with your physician before making dietary changes to ensure they are right for you.
I am a late-diagnosed autistic person (2020 at age 46!) and have been on a life-long journey to determine the best way of eating for my brain and body. I have a Diploma of Psychology of Eating, which is mainly about how you eat to digest well, but this approach was not enough for me on its own. I took an n=1 approach to experience and experimentation and have done a great deal of research to find what is right for my body.
I am, by nature, a low-energy kinda person. I am happy doing nothing for hours at a time, often forget to leave the house for days, and can easily spend months cloistered within a 15 mile radius without really noticing. My home is my haven: an ode to woollen blankets, beeswax candles, glossy plants, locally-roasted coffee and home-baked cake. But I often forget that drawing my comfort zone too close can be cloyingly claustrophobic.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” — Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light and Other Essays (1988)
The origins of “self-care” are far more powerful than the commercially-diluted “me-time” we are marketed to sell products or justify spa-days. When activist and intersectional feminist Audre Lorde wrote this line, she was affirming that preserving herself, as a Black lesbian woman, in a world that was (and still is) hostile to her identities and communities was a political act proclaiming her right to exist and thrive.
I’m thinking about my brain as I play the piano. I’m not having to work hard every minute to ensure that the words make sense, but instead I’m translating the dots on the page (effortlessly now after more than thirty years) and turning them into a place of safety and joy, coupled with tantalising moments of visceral bodily feedback.
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.