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.
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.
There is an innate value in patterns and maps, as tools for exploration – of worlds simple or complex, imaginary or realisable, and the porous boundaries between.
I started to search for activities I could do outside that didn’t exert too much physical energy but kept me busy enough so I wouldn’t go stir crazy. We had one unused raised bed in the garden; I claimed it as my own.
Each evening I write makes easier to write the next night. This beginning is often where we get stalled. This is easier for me lately, as I have the silent night to hold this sacred space for me. I have nowhere else to be.
There are few things I find more soothing and energising than creating a problem to tangle my brain in. Sometimes when I feel utterly sapped of energy, and completely exhausted, I will spot an issue that needs solving and slowly wrap my mind around it.
I stim away, clicking my fingers, speaking my truth. It’s therapy and activism. It’s self-care and self-challenge.
Once I found out I was autistic my body started integrating more of these moves and so I started to realise that when I’m me, being my open self, it’s normal behaviour and this is a way to cope.
In 2019 I carried out a study to explore how late-diagnosed autistic women (like me) managed their health and wellbeing. This is the last of four blog posts describing the themes I identified when analysing the interviews
There’s a well-kept secret that no one tells you about being creative; you don’t have to be good at it, to get the benefit.