You might know of somebody super sensitive. Or somebody on the Autistic Spectrum. It might be you, a friend or a colleague. Maybe you’re a caregiver or parent. I will share my 17 best coping tips so that you can pass them on….every act of kindness comes back to you, somehow, some day.
Aspergers, Aspies, High Functioning Autistics and HSP
For Aspies and HSP (Highly Sensitive Persons) and High Functioning Autistics, the safest and most calming place is the oasis we create in our homes…choosing the scents, colours and textures that make us feel calm and happy.
It’s a place where we can control volume, temperature, humidity, smells and the pace of life. Often we have a pet that gives us much needed animal therapy simply because animals are so much easier to understand.
How Aspies feel stress
Highly Sensitive People feel their (dis)stress in more intense ways, and can suffer feeling worn out from things other people find uplifting, even a simple social chat can deplete our energy. We need to escape to a quiet and empty space to recover and digest. I often forget that an exciting cake and coffee outing, feels amazing and fun but afterwards my energies crash. I need to regroup, to get back to ‘normal’. Even a good trip out, is extremely tiring. Something Neurotypicals don’t understand.
Little things, barely noticed by others build up: the hum of overhead lights in the supermarket as we search for toothpaste or pet food, the smell of cigarettes or perfume on somebody across the open park, the constant clatter from keyboards or tapping fingernails from the open plan office, along with scents of egg mayo, hummus and cappuccino. Add body odour, being shoved and pressed up against fabric softener scents on the tube or train: sensory nightmares!
For a HSP, the solution to overwhelm is tricky in practice, but easy in theory: avoid or reduce exposure to the things that cause you distress…
Lots of these triggers or factors are reduced by working from home. I don’t miss a nano second of the London commute or office life. And many aspies I know said how they found the working from home during 2020/1 much easier to deal with than the commute.
Having a supportive life partner or friend who can recognise the early warning signs is a blessing…often it’s too late when we see the signs ourselves..
Living with autism
When to know we need time out.
• getting snappy in our conversations
• emails sent late at night
• skipping exercise or hobbies
• forgetting daily vitamins or to stay hydrated or skipping meals
• trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep
• feeling wired but tired
• inability to focus solidly on one task
• the fresh organic veggies have reached their expiry date
• pile of empty cookie boxes yet the fruit bowl is overflowing
• our best friends email us things like: ‘how are you?’
• short temper with our loved ones
• getting to bed feeling nothing was accomplished
• feeling resentful for our current routine
Aspie and HSP Tips to revive and recharge energy reserves
- 1. unsubscribing from all emails never opened/read. (you can always re-subscribe if you need them)
- 2. put multivitamins and supplements where you can’t miss them eg next to your computer or toothbrush
- 3. carry a sensory calming pack everywhere (earplugs, soft cashmere beanie, gloves, lavender scented play dough or small vial of essential oil, a mini mister with floral water eg Drench tonic, noise cancelling headphones, your phone, bottle of water and a healthy snack),
- 4. eat meals at the table without any phone, book or TV. Savour the first three bites – notice the colours, textures, flavours and say a few words of gratitude to the people, creatures that this food possible.
- 5. if you suffer low blood sugar, always have water and a healthy snack with you like dried fruit, cheese, nuts, a healthy granola bar.
- 6. Switch off phone, computer, WIFI and all electronic media for at least an hour before bed. Read a paper book, write in your journal, sketch or stretch.
- 7. Check emails at three time slots day, or less. NOT every 15 minutes. And NOT when you wake up.
- 8. Focus on one task at a time only. This means only one screen open on your computer. If you are meant to be writing an article, close down gmail and other social media sites etc.
- 9. Each week spend an hour or two on a FUN hobby. Having this one space that is sacred and nurturing gives inspiration to the rest of the week. We are never too old to learn something new.
- 10. Switch to a natural skincare brand that uses essential oils instead of synthetic perfumes. Look for gentle floral waters and real ingredients on the labels that will feed your skin essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals. This will help your skin stay healthy so it feels more comfortable and looks better.
- In the ingredients listing look for high levels of naturals. If you can afford it, pick those made with hydrosols such as Proposal in Paris. Which work out better value than buying jars of heavily diluted recipes aka junk food. (whooops was that too blunt?!!)
- 11. Hug for at least 6 seconds – this releases happy hormones.
- 12. Stroke a cat or rabbit, or find a tree to hug. In the absence of a cuddly pet, a piece of super soft velvety or silky fabric will do. A squishy soft toy is great too.
- 13. Watch a funny movie or cartoons. Add hot chocolate and snuggly blankets….better than therapy. Some autistics love weighted blankets. Even cuddling a soft toy or pillow is very comforting while watching a movie or reading a book. If you have a pet, they may watch it with you on the sofa!
- 14. Add 5-6 drops of your favourite essential oil to your bath and allow yourself to wallow with music, book, tea, water, cookies…whatever makes you feel happy. I love a snack and a book. I wrote an article with essential oil recipes you can try out.
- 15. Get a healing massage, reiki, shiatsu or acupuncture treatment. Or learn EFT tapping
- 16. Find out if you have allergies or food intolerances. Many of us on the autistic spectrum have issues with wheat, gluten, dairy… due to leaky gut
- 17 start using Bach Flower remedies and calming moldavite crystal
Autism and sleep
Oh – this is an area that bothers most(all?) autistics, aspies right from birth to adult.
As an adult, I learnt that I need to sleep in my own room – have my own linen when sharing a double bed. And absolutely no TV in the bedroom! I have my room darkened, use a silk eye mask to cut out light, drink caffeine tea free teas and take relaxing baths.
I have noticed that it takes an hour or more to unwind from the day and the best method is a book that isn’t too exciting or else I am tempted to read till the early morning.
Update – May 2022 – I have started wearing this beautiful pendant and it is helping dream recall and feeling grounded.
Something that makes getting to sleep almost impossible is an argument in the evening. So I am learning creative ways to get my teenage Autist child off Fortnite, into e shower and to his bedroom… creative humour works best, and is a new method I am trying because screaming dragon mom didn’t achieve much other than increased blood pressure and grinding down my teeth enamel.
Gifts for autistic teenager
V bucks, gift voucher or money to spend on their favourite hobby/interest – because when you have something you love, you an never have too much of it. So money for Fortnite skins – you can never have too many, and there is always the next newest must-have accessory.
For me its aromatherapy or plant related things, or crystals or books! Every aspie has a special interest and will conform that you can never have too many of whatever you are crazy keen on! Moldavite is also super helpful for us – read my article here.
Please share this page with those you care about. Our world needs every act of kindness and compassion. For others and our selves.
PS: If you live in the UK, Canada, USA or Australia, I ship aspie friendly skincare products that I hand craft here in my studio. No filler. No toxic byproducts. Only healthy things that benefit your skin!