Autism and Sensory Trauma

Sensory trauma explained


I don’t often post links to other pages, but I do go back to “learn from autistics” repeatedly, and I do recommend it to others who are seeking information about the experience of autism. Useful for insights about how we as autistics experience our world.

Each one of us is different, our challenges and our experiences are all different, so sometimes I do not identify with some of the people in the interview section of the pages.

This particular series, however, was so well explained and so completely descriptive of some of my own trauma due to sensory issues, that I am including it here, in hope that somebody else may benefit.

Spouses, parents, siblings, co workers, caretakers, friends, and others who are not autistic may find this website useful for understanding the “autistic experience”. Who better to explain what our world is like, than those who have lived experience???


https://www.learnfromautistics.com/autism-interview-171-part-1-emma-reardon-on-sensory-challenges-and-sensory-trauma/


In recalling some of my most traumatic sensory experience “the stairs” loom as one of my most consistent challenges.

Through second grade, the school I attended was all on one level, no stairs. Beginning third grade that changed, as our family had moved to a new city. The grade school there was on 3 levels with a huge granite staircase as the dominant architectural feature.

The stair steps were low and wide and the stair well had railings only on each side and an open inside wall from railing height and above. The echo was incredible, the height and depth of the staircase was terrifying in dimension.

The other children ran up and down the steps, pushing, shoving, some dodging in and out of the main stream. I clung to a railing trembling and carefully placing each foot, and in desperate fear of falling.

This happened going up and down multiple times a day, for recess, lunch, “gym class” etc. Those stairs were the bane of my existence and I always got in trouble for being the last in my seat, last in line, etc. I had developed the seemingly reasonable technique of waiting until the other children had gone ahead before I attempted my terrifying ascents and descents.

In every school thereafter, there was the challenge of “the stairs”. Up levels and down several times a day.

Most class changes had us hustling to try to get to our next classroom before the “bell”. I was almost always late.

In addition to this, in middle school I also contended with aggression of others, one boy in particular finding it funny to run into me in thestairs or the hallway and to knock my huge pile of books out of my arms and send them flying in a storm of paper, pencils, and leaving me bruised.

I made sure nobody was near me on those stairs, not a soul on any staircase before I attempted to navigate them.

No teacher ever scolded him, I learned to wait standing in the hallway against the wall until he went into the classroom. ( he was always one of the last in, because he stalked me, waiting for an opportunity to attack).

I was always in trouble for being late after the bell.

I was constantly asked why I was in the hallway after others had long gone.

It was simply safer to me to get scolded by an adult, than it was to risk my life and risk injury every day on those stairs with the stampeding herds. I truly felt I was in that sort of danger every time I encountered stairs.

Can you imagine living in that sort of constant fear when approaching a seemingly simple every day activity?

There are loads of other memories I have about other sensory experiences, but the trauma of stairs is still with me.

If you are autistic, I bet you can think of some sensory traumas which have been with you all your life, too.

Uncovering your hidden self

Masking, coping, avoidance and appeasement habits


Those of us who had gone through life unaware of our autism – over 5 million of us in the USA today- have developed behavior to defend ourselves, to cope, to attempt to fit in, to self protect in a world we have found mostly confusing, frustrating, physically and emotionally painful, and stressful. I lived from my earliest consciousness in fear. Fear and anxiety have been the drivers and motivation for any interactions I have had with others for the greatest part of my life. I had no idea this was so, and I had no idea how it could be changed. I had no idea that things could be different or that I could find peace. I had to have somebody explain it to me.

We learn to play roles, to try to please and appease others to avoid confrontation, criticism, punishment, being ostracized and bullied, etc. We learn when we are very young that we must depend on the adults in our lives for absolutely everything, and we often adapt our behavior to suit those who have power over our lives.

We as adults may avoid situations we know will be distressing without ever understanding why we feel so completely inadequate to cope when others seem to do these things with apparent ease.

We may have physical symptoms that are distressing and we may have been trained to ignore them or press on and force ourselves to do things even though the physical feelings are present.

Until I was well into my 30’s, I had chest pains, nausea, headaches, rapid heartbeat, shakiness and trembling deep deep inside, and often I hyperventilated.
I had no idea that these were signs of anxiety and a response to adrenaline flooding my system whenever I forced myself to do things that I was not equipped to cope with.
I was considered melodramatic, that all these things were “psychosomatic” and that I was doing it to “get attention”.

In truth I was in constant fear of failing and of the resultant anger, criticism, punishment, etc which resulted in my failures. I was having almost constant panic and anxiety attacks.

If I had learned to recognize the signs my body gave me that something was wrong much earlier in life, I may have been able to find help.

I may have been able to sort out that what I was forcing myself to do was not right for me. Instead I used appeasement behavior and tried to fit in as I was expected to.

My headaches and nausea every time we went to a social gathering, whether family, friends, or strangers, my shaking and quaking inside my stomach, rapid pounding heartbeat, nervous sweating and restless anxiety were all of me telling me I needed to escape, but I had been trained to force myself to do the things I was expected to do.

I am wondering how many others struggle through all sorts of physical symptoms of their anxiety, fear, distress, stress, and never have a clue that their body is telling them something?

When I got therapy as a young adult, I learned to listen to my body, to search for the emotions that I was expressing through my physical suffering, and to identify the specific time and place where such physical manifestations happened.

I learned to listen to that part of me and to find what I had been hiding or trained to deny in self defense as a youngster dependent on others for survival, for shelter, food, and striving in vain for approval and the feeling of safety and comfort
I was able to provide the self approval, the feeling of safety and of comfort after years of hard emotional homework, but let me tell you it has been worth it. Knowing my autism diagnosis could have helped tremendously. Knowing now gives me the complete perspective I needed “back then” when I first started therapy. I would have had much more insight into the “whys” of the development of my coping behavior.


Having a therapist or life coach to help you spot these things and help you learn from your own body’s feedback, is life changing. I could not do it on my own, I had to have the help of an outsider to be able to see what had happened all those years and to understand how life could be different and better by making healthier choices for myself and learning to do things to please myself instead of appeasing others.

Now if I feel like I want to run, to hide, to leave, to avoid any given situation, I can recognize it before my body gets to trembling, I get sick to my stomach, I have the headaches, etc. I have learned to recognize and respond to the very first signs my body gives me that “something is wrong” and to think it through to sort out the cause so I can take action.

I did not know how to do this by instinct and had been trained to ignore and deny myself any feelings or responses besides those expected of me (due to punishment and my seeking to appease those in control of my life to avoid punishment).

It has been a long time trying out and having the courage to practice new and healthier behaviors, but first I had to learn to recognize that the adaptations I had made to survive were not healthy, and that I could change the way I responded to any person or situation.
I had to learn that I could choose for myself how to respond and what to do as an adult.

Think about the ways your body might be telling you something is wrong.
If you feel sick physically in any situation, if you feel restless and uncomfortable, if you are upset and you don’t know why, it might be time to take a look at sorting old and useless adaptations of youth and discarding them in favor of new ways, new choices, new things to try to make your life better, ease the distress, the pain and discomfort, and start to find peace and self understanding.

You do not have to do it alone!

“fixing” Autism

“Now you know, so you can change that”


I encountered this in one form or another all my life.

I was wrong, I was bad, I was a problem.

By being told how I was wrong, bad, stupid, a problem, or otherwise behaving badly, I was supposed to understand and change my ways. Often this was not specific, but things like “you know what you have done”, “think about it” or “shape up”,
It was assumed at all times that I was “doing it” on purpose, no matter what behavior or lack of insight or comprehension of any given situation or actions was involved.

I see this constantly on forums, in discussions, in ideas about “autism training” “behavior therapy” etc.
The concept seems to be rooted in the idea that all I ( the autistic subject) need is to be enlightened or told and then I can willfully and simply change their behavior.
( In this is the idea that the autistic person will want to simply change!)

“what can I do to make my child like “this thing” ” “do this thing” “behave this way” ?

” What can I do to make my autistic partner more responsive to me” ?

“I love my mate but they are so socially inept, how can I help them”?
( meaning how do I get them to change to somebody who is not like that)

“I want to help my mate be a better partner, he or she ( description about all the things the partner does that are not what the complaining mate wants)”
“I care so deeply but if my partner does not do (this) I will leave them” ( its not a partnership where we work together, it is either my way or the highway)

I see this as maladjustment of the person asking the question in each of these instances. It is not convenient or easy or comfortable to change oneself, so it is easier to blame problems on the other person. The autistic child or adult carries a double whammy because, well, autism. Relationships always require the work of all the individuals involved to be successful, in shared problem solving, especially.
Subjects under a dictatorship are likely to revolt eventually.


In many instances there is a great deal that could be done if the complaining person, parent, partner, spouse, classmate, friend, etc. Would take a look inside themselves and see if there are other ways they could choose to behave or react in cases where they want the autistic person to change or “do better”.

I was subjected to rages and physical abuse, emotional abuse, manipulation, intimidation, and more, to try to “fix” my autism and make me into an acceptable form of person to my parents, my siblings, my friends, my spouse and others.
I did not do what they wanted me to, did not react or behave as they thought I “should”. My childhood and young adult life was a misery.

If your child does not do something you want them to, how do you change your actions, reactions, behavior, environment, words, schedules, expectations, to adjust to this circumstance?

If your autistic partner, friend, spouse, etc. Is doing something that you do not like, do you continue to punish, abuse, berate, criticize, harass, belittle, intimidate, scold, and shame in expectation that they will change ?

Do you just do that over and over, maybe more loudly or harshly or with more anger?

I suggest that the person who has the complaint needs to think of new ways to approach any problem, so that it is not simply up to the autistic person to change.

Instead of expecting the leopard to change his spots, try changing your approach to the leopard.

Some things are not possible due to invisible workings of our neurology. Some things may be negotiable or navigable with support and encouragement.

Constant criticism, “fixing my problem” by making me miserable because everything is all my fault for not doing better, fixes nothing at all.

Is it any wonder so many autistic people avoid contact with others ? Avoidant behavior may be considered a personality disorder, but it makes perfect sense to those of us who have lived our lives under constant demands we are frequently not equipped to respond to in the expected ways. After so many repeated social failures is it not reasonable to find relief by withdrawal?



So that’s why!

that feeling of discovery


We have all had them, those “aha” moments when ideas and details come together to form a complete idea and we finally “get it”.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with a fellow rock and fossil collector one recent afternoon. We explored and collected specimens in a local area that is well known and were able to share finds, thoughts and ideas. We had met on the internet and shared finds, thoughts, and ideas in a local collectors group for over a year, and agreed to meet “in person” for the first time to hunt specimens.

I have found this is a great way to make connections and to “find my own kind”, slowly getting to know somebody through internet interactions, messaging and emails… shared ideas, through posts in interest groups, using photos, asking questions of each other.

The transition to “real life” interaction was painless and without as much anxiety as I would have experienced in a group activity among strangers. The meeting was well planned with location, time, and expectations we both had well defined ahead of time. My slower processing speeds work better online and of course allows for better understanding.

As my companion and I walked along, sorted finds, and talked, he would ask me a question, and after I responded would be silent for a few moments, then would say
“so that’s why”.

I was charmed. I am sure I was seeing autistic thought processes in fully engaged mode.

The use of that word “why” seems to me to be a dead giveaway.

Interestingly enough, we shared similar family histories and early life experiences, had similar outlooks on life, and similar views. Like seems to be drawn to like. Life struggles he described sounded familiar to me. It stands to reason that over time some part of our selves find others we identify with, understand, and who seem to be ‘coming from the same place’.


In a world full of billions of humans I find that this seems to happen over and over. Amazing!

The “why ” questions we both asked each other (and gave answers to) were basic information sharing, about our rock and fossil collecting specimens, about geology and about others we both knew from the group, as well as about each other’s life histories and situations.
Where so many people tend to hide their struggles, many autistic people are open, frank, and direct about almost everything.

“Why ” seems to be what many of us (autistic folks) base our interactions on. We need details surrounding almost everything in order to understand.

I loved hearing my companion say “so that’s why”.
It was great feedback that meant I was with somebody who understood me and who I was able to understand as well. Finding somebody like that in today’s world is like finding a ruby in the sand on the beach. Rare and valuable, and infrequent.

Listen to how others around you use the magic word “why”. My friend does not identify as being autistic (yet).



Autism Diagnosis online?

Web-based health care raises interesting questions

With the advent of Covid -19 restrictions come new ideas for diagnosis and treatment of individuals.
Instead of going to the doctor, many are staying home in front of their computers and talking to their doctor or other health care individual using web-based technology.

This prevents potential exchange of germs/virus/disease through limited contact.
Insurance companies are beginning to approve these “meetings on line” as they would an “in person” consultation. There are loads of convenience factors and cost savings when this works well for both parties.

What about seeking diagnosis for autism on the internet using such services?

I have witnessed an increase of diagnostic services available along with “treatment” and other autism related “professional advice”, from people who claim expertise and who will give advice and diagnosis using web cams and internet messaging questions, or phone diagnosis.

This is very encouraging. Diagnosis may be available more easily without the wait and the stress of “in person” testing. How tempting !


BEWARE AUTISM SCAMS and WOO WOO

Reminder here to be wary of those on the internet claiming to be professionals, and seek verification of qualifications carefully.

I just did a quick search and found many web sites claiming to have doctors available to diagnose and help at the touch of a button.

No locations were given for their services, no physical way to contact them and their names were hidden
.
Example: Dr J had a very earnest looking profile photo of a middle aged man in a white coat and descriptions about how he cared about his patients, how he was careful and thorough, etc, supposedly in his own words, were printed below his image as quotes.

The on line ” psychology clinic” I visited had several profiles of very caring looking individuals with similar descriptions of the comfort and insight they offered along with their diagnosis and treatments.
I could not find documentation for any address, location, registration of professional groups, or other information either on the website or in on line searches.
It all looked so professional and caring, without a whit of actual concrete information to back up their claims and the identities of any individuals related to the pages.
Even superficial investigation raised more questions than answers.

I have been approached through my blog, through interviews I have given to autism web sites and individuals, and through my public email address.
Somebody can help me!!! Always for a fee, always somebody who truly cares, always somebody with flashy web sites long on “sincerity” but short on true information about location, training of the providers, professional involvement, experience, etc.
If somebody approaches you offering to help, ask yourself “why”???

Informative videos on you tube and other web locations can be helpful, but look for full identity disclosure, including verifiable information such as address,phone number, business filing and standing with local authorities, documentation regarding education and practice, etc. before deciding to use this new tool.
Will your insurance pay for it?
Will your application for aid be taken seriously when you tell the Social Services person you got diagnosis through online websites from another country?


The idea of being diagnosed from the comfort of your own home is tempting.

Do your homework very thoroughly first!

Who benefits from giving you a diagnosis? How much of your hard earned cash will you have to cough up?

Will you give your credit card number and never hear from them again?

Will the diagnosis help you obtain disability or workplace accommodations or is it the equivalent of the “5-day degree on line from our intensive courses” .

Where were the diagnostic individuals trained, how long have they been practicing, what is the phone number and address of their place of business, look past the flashy website for actual information and use your research skills to follow up the claims and verify the statements made on that web site.

Is the individual known and active in their own community? Is the business registered in that country, state, city, and are all legal requirements for practice met?


The internet is a life and sanity saver for many of us, it will be with us for a long time in the future and practices will continue to grow and change as more and more business is accomplished at the touch of a button from home or office. The web is a great tool!

Unfortunately scams and fraud are always with us. Don’t be a victim! Check out claims of training, experience, degrees, associations, Schools, Clinics, and publications, etc. thoroughly before even thinking of proceeding.

Atypical

Not your average label


I have been reading about autistic people with previous diagnoses to getting a diagnosis as autistic.

I attend discussions and online forums on various web pages every day, and also am moderator or admin for a couple as well.
I read over and over about people with diagnoses – but they are “atypical” in presentation of the labels/ diagnoses they have been given.
I am reading recent studies looking at how many older autistic adults have previous diagnoses before learning about their autism.

So many people tell of diagnosis of many sorts, but say they have unusual presentation of symptoms for that diagnosis.

Almost all diagnoses are mentioned in these discussions. Schizophrenia with unusual presentation, Bipolar, Borderline, OCD, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD….all with non- typical behaviors, etc. you get the idea.

I just want to call to your attention that when Doctors don’t know where to put your diagnosis if they don’t know about autism, they may put diagnosis in the closest category of things they are familiar with, saying your presentation is unusual but matches most closely with… ____________. whatever the diagnosis they give you besides autism.

If you have such a diagnosis and you are still trying to find out if you are autistic, especially if you have been getting therapies, or medications, without standard response, this might be a strong clue that your actual diagnosis might be autism.
Misdiagnosis is very common because autism is not well understood among the majority of professionals today.
We may not respond to standard therapies for our “atypical” diagnosis, finding them not useful, not understandable, difficult and unhelpful, frustrating and more.

We may have been told our case is “intractable”. (nothing they try has helped).

We will not respond in expected ways to medications, either.
After all, it could be that the treatment we are getting is not for our “actual” diagnosis.


If you find yourself in such a position, it is perfectly OK to question that diagnosis. It is perfectly OK to say treatment is not helping and ask to try something else or to look at other options, even ask if diagnosis could be “something else” .

Sometimes people do have multiple diagnoses, and treatment will possibly be more complex. Knowing about ones autism as well as any other diagnosis can only help to shed light on struggles and offer new and helpful ways of living our lives.

If you have not had success being treated for your “atypical” diagnosis, you might want to look again at Autism being the answer.

Knowing we are autistic opens a world of self understanding and helps us find useful accommodations to make our lives better.

Diagnosis of Autism can be life changing, even as an older adult. The difference between my life ” before and after” diagnosis is immeasurable.

Autism associations

Regarding genetic and developmental syndromes

Today I took some hours to look at associated genetic developmental syndromes. I looked at studies from 2004 to the present , they were easy to find, there have been a lot of studies done which mention autism as associated to these syndromes, some of which are quite rare. If there was any question that autism is developmental or genetic in origin, perhaps this will be informative.

Search any of these scientifically and medically defined syndromes by name and add “autism” to the search key words for as much information as you can handle. The studies are there in significant numbers.

List from this morning’s work. Any diagnosis can be “stand alone” or it can be “co morbid”, these seem to be associated with autism often enough to have been mentioned in over 24 studies I used to compile these associated syndromes. I am sure there will be more if I continue the search and study. Do you have, or do you know anybody who has one or more of these syndromes and is/are also autistic?

Names of Genetic Syndromes associated with autism

Hamartoma
Fragile X

Cri-duChat

Tuberous Sclerosis Rett

Down

Phenylketonuria

CHARGE

Angelman
Prader Willi
Neurofibromatosis
Laurence Moon Bidel
Joubert
Goldenhar
Hypomelanosis of Ito
Noonan
Sotos
VCF
Lebers amaurosis
Ehle rDanlos
Williams
Ludan Fryns
Coffin Lowrey
Moebius
ADNP
Cohen
HEADD
Phelan Mcdermid
Stenert
Timothy
Marinesaro Sjodgren
Smith Lenli Opitz
Coffin Siris
Duchennes
2Q deletion
De Lange
Rubenstien Taybi
MOMO
Smith Magenis
Apert

All of these syndromes involve genetic changes that cause differences in development of various parts and systems of the body. Interesting, Isn’t it?







Autism Awareness

April is autism awareness month!

But every day is autism awareness for some of us. Many are acutely aware of our struggles daily.

I spend most of my time trying to either gain/learn information or to share information about autism, especially in older adults. I repeat my encouragement to share any information on these pages, to reprint or post any of my comments freely. I don’t claim copyright, use them in any way you can to promote awareness and understanding of autism. Just don’t claim my words as your own.
Please share.

Every day should be autism awareness day.

Over 5 million autistic adults in the USA may not be aware of their diagnosis because nobody “was” aware of autism during the times we grew up.



Autism Special Interests

What are the things that interest you most?

Let me say right away that the term “special interest” annoys me. It feels like condescension, patronizing little pats on the head , and maybe even a bit of ridicule. “aren’t we special”???

Everybody has hobbies and interests. Autistic people seem to have intense experiences of learning surrounding our strongest interests. It can be very exciting, mentally stimulating, to think about and to learn about our favorite subjects in depth.

I want to try to define the intense-to-obsessive interests that most autistic people seem to have in one form or another.
Specific intense interests can ebb and flow, being at times more diverting, obsessive, narrow and specific than others, or suddenly disappearing as another interest takes hold of the mind.
This is probably true of almost all people growing up. This is probably true of most adults today as well.

Things differ in autism regarding interests; for many of us the depth of interest, the intensity of focus and the amount of energy and work that goes into learning about our subject or subjects is proportionately much greater and unusually, (as compared to neurotypical interest levels), autistic interests are much deeper in practice.

Interests will range from social issues, to specific people, to any of the sciences, even very specific specialties surrounding one small area of science.
Interests can be physical, such as athletic participation and achievement, musical, creative (making or creating anything from textiles, to woodwork, ceramics, automotive, industrial processes or skills for example), Interests can be farming, gardening, training animals or care-taking, psychology,electricity, or any other thing that catches and feeds our curiosity and interest.
Anything in the world can be of intense interest.

This trait can be the basis of a career for those who develop marketable skills using their passionate interest in computers, culinary arts, child development, nuclear science as applied to certain branches of medicine, etc.. an interest in cartoons can lead to a career as an artist or technician, in computer gaming to research and development of new computer technologies, etc.
Passionate interest in something like horses or fire trucks can lead eventually, if fed and stimulated, to veterinary school, becoming a specialist in selling horse realty properties,or a host of other animal related careers. Career paths with the fire truck lover could lead to becoming a mechanic or a manufacturer of electric sirens and fire alarms, for example.
Look beyond the current specific interest in a child and see if you can help lead related interests into career options.
If you are an autistic adult looking for interesting work, how can you turn your interests into a related job?
Ask others to help you look at your interests with career or profit making in mind, how can you break down the skills you apply to your interest to a way to make money?

I read over and over about parents who only allowed their child to follow their interests as a reward for performing other functions (clean your room, then you can use the computer for an hour to look up your special interest). If you don’t reach your parent’s goals, you are helpless to have satisfaction and stimulation, or enjoyment. You are punished using the very thing you love for not being able to do the things others seem to do so easily. What misery and feelings of despair and futility this causes. (ask me how I know)

I have met many people who try to shut down the interest because they want their child to be interested in something else. (he can’t bring his rock collection into the house because it is dirty and nasty, why can’t he join little league baseball instead ? ( actual example) What is wrong with this?

Instead of using the intense interest and excitement of discovery surrounding the subject,as a way to bring dimension, a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction the autistic person, sometimes even as an adult, is instead shut down, criticized and degraded, or mocked… other minds thinking the specific interest shown is a waste of time or not useful.

If the interest is unhealthy, (and some interests can certainly be unhealthy), I can understand this thinking. When the interest is not socially or personally destructive, (if it satisfies curiosity, creativity, feeds intellect or gives insights, and stimulates thought, perceptions, promotes understanding, or otherwise is constructive in nature), it can be a portal to other things and used to help relate to others in so many ways.

Interests can be a passport to a career, to social interaction with others with whom we share interests, to satisfaction, healthy distraction and focus on good experiences and a way to escape pressures of a sometimes very difficult world ( how wonderful to be able to understand all about something we enjoy).

There are many explanations about “special interests” written by specialists and other autistic people. Some speculate that deep interests are a sort of self stimulation (stimming). I have said that learning, for me, is a form of recreation. Some psychologists see the intensity of interests as escapism, and have advocated restricting interests as a way of forcing autistic people to interact socially instead. This strikes me as another form of the “force them into the mold of being “normal”” school.

Were you actively discouraged from your strong interests in your childhood?


What might have happened if your interests were supported, gently directed, and your curiosity fed and stimulated instead?

As an old woman now, I can only speculate. I think things may have turned out very differently for me.
I am glad I live today knowing about my autism and I take great joy in learning new things about my favorite subjects.

I love interacting with others who share my interests, and exploring new interests without worrying about others in my household trying to divert me, chastise me, or keep me from learning and thinking about the subjects that give me such passionate curiosity and enjoyment and satisfaction of finding out more about them.





Autism Intrusive thoughts

Re-living trauma, replays of old experiences

All my life I have had a “running dialogue” in my head. I hear every thought, and I am always thinking. Since I function best using words, this is understandable to me.

I have also had continual “loops” of old bad experiences shove themselves into my conscious thoughts regularly. I “replay” the upset, the angst, the pain, the fear over and over.
I came to the conclusion after my diagnosis, that this is my brain looking for answers about what happened, and seeking answers about how to avoid repeating what happened.

It is my understanding through discussion with others on the online forum groups that I attend, that this is a common experience.
Re-living trauma, pain, angst, anger, and upset is evidently a side effect of poor processing and misunderstanding. It is as if our minds still try to sort the event out and to come up with a “better ending” or new understanding.
This might be a sort of perpetual attempt to process something that is not comprehensible.
I have ( and had ) a lot of “loops” replaying old pains and fears.

These things happened before I knew about my autism and before I understood my very slow to non-existing processing of “real life” interactions.

There were perpetual misunderstandings, I was forever reacting in ways that angered others due to my own misunderstandings (and eventually to my angry frustration and almost instant defensiveness whenever anyone approached me).

I was ready to be attacked, assumed that I would be attacked and constantly vigilant to escape through the mal-adapted means I had developed as I grew up.

In interacting with other autistic people in forums, asking questions, etc, I have learned that this is a common and distressing side effect of our autism. All those replays pushing for attention, replaying the hurts and the angers and fears over and over. It became a sort of habit to re-live those experiences and to repeatedly come to the conclusion that others were hostile and out to get me.
Traumatic confirmation bias, and a self fulfilling cycle, however unsatisfactory. I was stuck on “hold” continually re-living old pains and traumas.

That was before I knew about being autistic.

Knowing my autism diagnosis gave me new perspective on these old hurts, and these constant reminders of my inability to defend myself, my complete incompetence to deal with people in almost any upset situation, my lack of ability to understand what had happened, and why.

I was not able then to see how my autism (and theirs, too) sometimes got in the way of communication, resulting in misunderstandings, angry flare ups and worse.

After learning of my autism, I began to allow those memories “head space” instead of trying to avoid them. ( something I was never really able to do).

As I faced the memories one by one, I was able to take each apart in little bits and to see how autism had added confusion, anger, misunderstanding, mis-comunication, hurt feelings and so much more to the original “triggering incident”.

Once I was able to figure out “what happened” I have been able to set that particular memory aside.

If I am sure I can not fix it, can not change the outcome, can not do a thing about it all these years later, then I deliberately file that memory into a metaphoric file
(remember I think in words, not pictures) that I created in my mind.

You may find it helpful to actually picture a file with a label on it and the memory as a paper, or other item and actually visualize this part, if that is the way your mind works.

I take my painful memory, which I now have new understanding of, and I file it in that metaphoric file, which I call “finished business”.

If that particular memory presents itself in my mind again, I remind myself that it is “finished business” and immediately send it back to that file.

Over the course of about three years since I have been practicing this method, I am finding more peace and having far fewer intrusive bad memories. I allow the memory “head space” until I have examined it with my new understanding, if I can not change anything now, but I know and understand more about “how or why it happened”, I can safely ask it to go to the “finished business” file and to stay there.

In many online conversations with others on these self help, self support ” by autistics and for autistics” forums, I have explained how I do this, and I have got good feedback from others about its usefulness as a tool to help find peace and self understanding.

Diagnosis is the key to self understanding.

I realized recently that I might not have mentioned this method for dealing with old pains on this blog in the past and thought it might be something useful for others with painful and distressing memories to try.

Hoping you too will find this helpful.

Today is the first day of spring 2021. May you continue to grow and bloom!

New beginnings and new and better life, growth, and renewal are possible through diagnosis.