Autism and Auditory Processing

Auditory processing disorders may be one of the most common to autism.

Struggles with communication are a hallmark of autism, and one of the diagnostic criteria that must be present for an autism diagnosis.


All my life I have been told I do not listen. I have been told and chastised over and over to “pay attention”.

I was punished in school and at home for not following directions, for not answering questions directed toward me, for asking questions for clarity and being told with frustration or anger,
” You should have listened when I was explaining that” or “I already covered that”.

I have been repeatedly tested for hearing and have a range of perception of sounds that is much higher and lower than average. I have really great hearing!

Here is the catch, though.
I may hear everything that goes on around me, I may hear every word spoken and my hearing may be acute with vivid clarity, but once I hear the sound, it may not be translated in my mind to information I can use.

I may only “get” the slightest idea of what the 10 minute lecture was about. I may only understand that somebody is very angry with me because I did not do, or did do something that they did not want me to do.

I may not know how to proceed with the next assignment, project, or workplace task because every sound I heard did not register in understandable form, if it registered at all.

I was told all through my childhood and young adulthood I had no excuse except laziness and deliberate insubordination for my failure to perform as expected.

If you find yourself being chastised over and over for not paying attention, for deliberately ignoring instructions or being lazy and undependable, consider being tested to see if you, too, might have disabilities surrounding auditory processing disorders.

Sensory processing disorders are proving to be hallmarks of autism.
Diagnosis is still through pinpointing certain behaviors, but more and more, science is seeing that our neurology and differences in the way we process sensory information is behind the “abnormal” clusters of behaviors that currently define autism in diagnostic tools.

Due to the fact that our neurology is unevenly developed, we may have processing disorders in any or all of the senses we use every day to bring us information about our world and help us understand how to act and react in any situation.

When we can not process the information our senses bring to us in “normal” ways, every thing we experience is affected.

More on sensory processing soon.

Autism and Executive Function

Do we know what we don’t know, what we need to know?


So many autistic adults have had life long struggles with executive function.
Somehow we lack the skills and insights to make our everyday life “work”. We get stuck somewhere mid task, don’t start tasks, lack organization, can’t figure out how to prioritize,
have no idea where to even begin.

Have trouble paying bills on time? Trouble keeping house, doing laundry, maintaining the car, problems with clutter? Self care a problem, not getting needed health care, having healthy eating, sleeping, bathing ? Having problems with food preparation, grocery shopping, meal planning? These every day activities of healthy living are all things we need to do. They also all require several steps to perform. Executive function is working correctly when we know we need to do something, plan how we will do it, when we will do it, know which steps to take to do it in proper order, and how to start and finish. If we have multiple tasks we must figure out which is most important and put it in order of priorities. Deciding which comes first, and when we will do them.

Many of us can use tools to help us function better. We have calendars, alarms, reminders, helpers, or counselors, and we can get aid from occupational therapists or other specialists in teaching us how to assemble all the steps to do any job. This is simply overwhelming for many autistic individuals, and involves too many skills and too much sorting to “go it alone”.

There is no shame in asking others for help.

There is no shame in hiring others to do the “hard stuff” if it seems impossible to master it.

I had to learn every step of most household tasks and build on my knowledge as I was coached about how to do it. I was luckier than most because I could get information from books and practice advice on things like housekeeping, car care, health care, how to do household chores, and I could learn about making budgets, managing money, etc.

A trusted friend or family member, a therapist, or counselor can help you find tools that will work for you.

At 70 years of age, I have a built in routine of long practice. I have times and calendars to help me plan and execute most household and self care chores. I also have “backup plans” for if I miss something. I have a way to get myself back on track so that I don’t allow my whole schedule to go “blooey” and lost it all.

I also have a spouse that follows rigid routines to help keep me on the path to performance.

I have been lucky to have these things. If I had not been taught early how to do each little chore step by step, and been able to read about what I did not know and practice it, I am sure I would be struggling.

The good news is that we can learn how to do these things. We can reach out to others to get the help we need sorting out which skills we need to learn, and how to apply them, and to decide when and where, and how we will do each of these things.

If we take it one little step at a time, the skills of executive function we struggle with can be helped in many ways.

If you find yourself overwhelmed and not knowing what to do, please reach out to others to help you sort through it all and help find the right tools for healthier living.

Autism Communication

Be specific! Open-ended questions are difficult!

“Struggles in communication” is one of the features used to diagnose autism. If you do not struggle with understanding and communicating, you can not be diagnosed as autistic.


We (Autistic individuals) may not speak, we may have a hard time finding the right words, we may freeze up when asked a sudden unexpected question. This is due to sensory processing difficulties in various parts of our unusual neurology.

It is frequently missed or misunderstood when asked vague questions like “how are you doing”, or “tell me about yourself”.
We also miss hints about everything: “this car needs washed”, “Those dishes are piling up”,
“it sure would be nice to go out today”, “I wish I had one of those” , are all taken literally and accepted without seeing the underlying “call to action” suggested in the comments.

I have been asked “do I have to paint you a picture” with great sarcasm. Well, yes, sometimes illustrations might help!

The less open-ended or vague your communication to me is, the better I can understand your agenda, the issue at hand, the expectation, the thing you may be subtly suggesting.
Subtle doesn’t work!! Calm, frank, open communication in a very direct and specific manner for the win!

Open-ended questions are so difficult. We struggle to understand what is wanted or expected of us. (autistic people)
Autistic neurology, (sensory processing neurology deficits) many of us have may cause difficulty picking up on nuances such as tone of voice, expression, body language, or context to determine intent.
Autistic folks are usually very direct and usually take no offense in others being direct in interacting with them.
We tend to love details and specific information because it makes it easier to decide how to respond safely.
Yes, safely!
Tremendous anxiety goes with almost any interaction with other humans. So many of us (especially older adults with lots of life experience) have learned that our responses to others can annoy, irritate, enrage others and most of the time we will not have a clue to why this is so.

If we are given very specific questions or requests, it helps us sort what is expected of us and helps us decide how to respond.

Knowing what is expected of us gives us a base to interact with others while feeling safe and less anxious about possible mistakes or misunderstandings.

Autism Neurology

Uneven neurological development is the hallmark of autism.


Autism is developmental, present when a person is born and it is present until that person dies. There is no cure, there are only ways to help adapt to living which can make things easier and less burdensome.

Autism is decidedly genetic in nature, and its presence is discovered mostly through behavioral clues.

When an individual is being examined with autism diagnosis as a possibility, it is urgently desired that one’s developmental history be examined.

When measured against neurotypical peers, something interesting is going on in autistic children.

Science long ago set guidelines about what is normal development in a child and what is abnormal.

Most children grow and develop along the same pattern, some being slightly slower or slightly quicker to show standard signs of growth and development.

Babies follow motion with their eyes at a certain age, respond to sudden noises, make sounds, reach for their feet and toes, roll over, sit up, crawl, take their first steps, speak, and respond in certain ways at certain expected times.

Youngsters generally sleep through the night at a certain age, speak in sentences, are able to tie their shoes, are toilet trained, can ride a bike, can read and write at specific well defined ages.

Autistic children are seemingly on their own schedules.

There are early and late developers, some skip stages completely.

Some are reading before they can speak, some never sleep through the night, some never toilet train, ride a bike, read or write. The development they experience is uneven and erratic, unusual…. not “normal” or average compared to the majority of developing children. ( neurotypical)

Some are very early, or mix stages, being extremely early in performing some tasks and late in others.

Since autism is developmental, and most signposts of development are well documented , Doctors know what to expect at certain ages in a child’s development.

This is why a diagnosing doctor may ask about your childhood.
Did you speak early or late? Did you read early? Did you start school early or late?
They will ask about early childhood behavior.
Were you fussy, placid, hyperactive, or chatty?
Did you over react to loud noises, flashing lights, fear the dark?
Did you spend a lot of time lining things up, playing alone, making up songs or rhymes?

All childhood behavior can be examined looking for clues to autism.

In following blogs and participating in online forums, some people relate incidents where a diagnosing professional says they can not be sure of autism because the person is so old they could not produce a childhood history. They are sometimes denied an examination at all if they can not produce a witness to their early childhood!
Their parents may be dead or estranged, or otherwise not available and no long term old friends are present to tell of the individual’s early history.
This is wrong!!! DSM clearly says that lacking early history, a diagnosis can still be made.
I have wondered why the testimony of the individual being tested (their memories) is not acceptable?

If you can remember struggling to do things a younger sibling did with ease, if you know you were an early reader or a very late speaker, these and many other things are great clues that you had signs of uneven neurological development and that autism is possible, even likely if unexplainable by other diagnoses.

Every day science is learning more about autism. Older people who missed diagnosis simply because it was not known in their childhoods have many clues they can use for finding hidden autism. Remembered details from childhood must not be discounted in cases where there is a lack of other witness.

Autism connected to Suicide

Significant large studies performed in the past 5 years provide new information about the strong connection between Autism and suicide.

In the general USA population suicide rates are around 1 in 313 .
In the diagnosed Autistic population, suicide rates are around 1 in 56.

Autistic women, especially those with other diagnoses such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, borderline, etc. are up to 9 times as likely to attempt suicide.

Over 66 percent of diagnosed Autistic adults report having thoughts of suicide. Over 33 percent say they have made plans or attempted suicide.

In one study involving multiple hospitals and treatment facilities, adults admitted for suicidal behavior without an Autism diagnosis were screened for autistic behaviors. 44 percent were found to have Autistic behaviors strong enough for diagnosis of Autism.

Hospitals and treatment facilities are beginning to routinely screen for Autism in undiagnosed adults as part of the admission procedure when suicidal behavior is involved.

How many more undiagnosed autistic adults may be included in the overall statistics of suicidal behavior that has been gathered in the USA?

Doctors did not begin to diagnose Autism until 1980 and even into the 1990s the definitions of Autism only found severely Autistic and mostly learning disabled children. Criteria for diagnosis has been revised several times in the DSM , and current understanding of Autism is much better today.

Adults born before 1980 were never screened for Autism because such screening was simply not available.

DHS and the Census Bureau estimate that there are over 5 MILLION Autistic adults in the USA today; most have no idea of their Autism diagnosis.

If you have struggled with suicidal thoughts and behaviors or have a loved one who has done so, especially if treatment has been unsuccessful or diagnoses of other conditions has been labeled “unusual presentation” of that diagnostic condition, please consider the possibility that Autism might be present.


Knowing one’s diagnosis can give useful self-information, new insights and perspective on struggles of the past and present, and provide new ways of thinking and living.

Diagnosis can be life changing, even life saving.

Questions, discussions, studies citations, or for a speaker for small groups, please contact me: Autisticelders@gmail.com

See also: https://oldladywithautism.blog

Please share, copy, quote, thank you,
Debra Brisch



Adult diagnosis of Autism

Things you might not know

It might surprise you to know there is no standard procedure to determine or identify autism.

There is not a genetic test, a test for chromosomes, blood test,
a certain “look” or appearance ( You don’t “look ” autistic) for autism.

There are no standard characteristic behaviors that all autistic people share.

Science is still learning how best to identify autism. In recent years more information has been discovered that has helped shape our idea of autism.

Autism’s rarity (believed to be 2 to 3 percent of the total population although nobody really Knows, since diagnosis is often missed, especially among minorities and among women).

There is not information about autism in many cultures around the world,
its frequency, nor is there understanding of autism at all in many places on earth.

Many diagnosing doctors in “developed” countries around the world are using information that is decades old, and these “specialists” may not be seeking new information besides what they learned as students.

Information in books is not up to date- by the time any book is published much information is already dated.

Consider then, that those professionals who went to school 30, 20, or even 10 years ago will be using information they learned that long ago from books that were outdated when they were studying them, and attempting to apply it when they try to diagnose autism.

Unless they have made autism a specialty, only 2 or 3 percent of any neurologist, neuropsychologist, or psychologist’s clients will likely be autistic.
With so little understanding and so little practice at sorting information regarding diagnosis, is it any wonder that even when we attempt diagnosis by a professional, so many of us (autistic folk) are given misdiagnoses?

Don’t be dismayed if this happens to you. You can keep seeking diagnosis with somebody who specializes in autism and has experience with adults, minorities, women, elderly, etc. depending upon one’s self description. There will be difficulty today in locating such an individual.

Many adults report living with misdiagnoses and being unsuccessfully medicated or given treatments for disorders they do not have until their autism was discovered. How many others are out there still, being given ineffective treatments, being told they are atypical or intractable examples of their (wrong) disorder?

If all treatment fails and you are still suffering and not finding change or relief for your diagnosed disorder, you may have been given a false diagnosis/label due to the lack of familiarity with autism and the many ways it can present itself.


Today autism is diagnosed by observing behaviors, testing neurology, discussing one’s life history and quirks and struggles. Everything depends on the skill and experience and up to date knowledge of the diagnosing professional.

The only criteria that is used is behavioral.
There is no other criteria at this time that can be used.

Autism is still new to science and until very recently there has been very little understanding of autism as having a neurological basis. Even in the past 5 years autism is described as being neurodevelopmental and based in the differences of our neurological development as compared to “average” or “normal” development in our peers.

Obtaining diagnosis for autism in adults will become easier in time as better tools are found and applied by more competent and better educated professionals. That time can not come soon enough for the over 5 million autistic adults in the USA, most of whom have no idea they are autistic.









How to Seek Diagnosis

Common question with multiple answers


It has been almost 2 years since my formal professional diagnosis. Since that time I have read countless blogs and participated in multiple forums for autistic people of all sorts.

One of the most commonly asked questions is “how do I seek diagnosis”?

Unfortunately, there are very few competent diagnosing professionals for adults with autism, or suspecting autism. Information about autism is being updated almost daily and many professionals fail to keep up with changing ideas and thoughts about autism.
It is still very common for an adult seeking diagnosis to be told it is impossible for them to be autistic because they are in a relationship,married, have children, make eye contact, hold a job, or live independently. Many diagnosing professionals believe that autistic people do none of those things.

Many adults seeking diagnosis are turned away with the diagnosing professional saying it is too late anyways, “you are already living your life and what good would it do to get diagnosis now”?? “there is nothing we can do for you now”

Those seeking diagnostic services as adults need to be aware that it is possible, even common to encounter rejection, mockery and ridicule, misdiagnosis, and misdirected “treatment” with both drugs and recommended “therapies”.

How do I find a competent diagnosing professional?
Here are a few strategies gleaned from much discussion with others over the period of time since I was finally able to obtain my own diagnosis.

Be prepared to travel long distances, pay out of pocket, and recognize that it may take a very long time.

Many insurance companies will not support “testing for autism” but will support psychological or neuro-psychological testing in general.

Check to see if your insurance covers psychological testing. Part of the testing process may be covered by insurance, medicare, or supplemental insurance, but it is likely to require co payment of some sort. If money is an issue (and for most people it is a big one!) check out the coverage you might have first. Ask if they will accept client (you) claim submission for out of pocket payments using “out of network” psychologists.


While you are talking to the Insurance company ask them if they can recommend psychologists or neuro- psychologists who accept their plans.


Do you know others in your area who have obtained diagnosis as an adult? Is there an autism group, support group, or other autism (therapy, social, etc) group in your area? You may find diagnosis by asking these groups for recommendations or referrals. Even if the group is for children or minors, many of those parents may also be autistic or have obtained diagnosis. Most will be glad to share the name of their diagnosing professional.

You may be told by insurance to visit your GP for a referral. Many GPs may know somebody in their professional circles or within the group they practice in. Many will not .

Finding diagnosis can be a struggle of its own, things are gradually getting better, but for most of us who missed diagnosis in the 80’s and earlier, we can expect to have to be persistent and diligent in our search and to rely on patience and self care to see us through.

If personal contacts do not bring forth names of professionals willing to work with you, you can ask in forums and pages on the internet.

There are lists in some internet groups depending on location, which have contact information for diagnosing professionals.

Cities with high population, teaching hospitals, and medical colleges will be more likely to contain a professional who is experienced in screening adults for autism.

There are individuals who are willing to do diagnosis today online or on the telephone using webcams and other technology. Covid has made this possible and can be a blessing for some, but be aware that if you are seeking disability or legal accommodations in the USA you will likely need to present documentation from a USA doctor and it will have to be part of your medical records.
Internet medicine and related practices is full of fraud and if you can not ascertain an established practice with a physical address, phone, email and other contact information, or if you can not find documentation from the state (Doctors and businesses must register and be certified or licensed by the states where they practice, and those documents are public record) then do not proceed!
Verify credentials and any internet information using at least 2 other sources. In eagerness for diagnosis, don’t be duped by slick imposters and tricksters.

Locating possible professionals is only the beginning!

Calling or emailing for information comes next.

1. Express interest in obtaining testing because you suspect you may be autistic.

2. Ask if the professional sees adults, older adults, women/or other descriptions of your self identity

3. Ask how many autistic diagnoses the professional has made. How many women, etc?

4. Depending on the answers, ask for the professional to phone you regarding your interest in being diagnosed. If the professional does not call you back and you are pressed to make an appointment, do not proceed.

5. When the professional phones you, ask the questions 1 through 3 in person, and see if you get the same answers.

Do you communicate easily with the professional? Do they answer your questions and ask questions of their own? Proceed to make an appointment to meet and talk in person about the diagnostic process.

Do you feel as if they are being abrupt, impatient, condescending, or are angry with your questions? Do they push off or put off your questions and prompt you to make an appointment for diagnosis rather than a pre- diagnosis meeting right away? Do not proceed if these warning signs are present.

Other questions to ask: How many tests have been performed and how many adult diagnoses given?

How many women, or other self descriptions have been diagnosed?

Do they give follow up support? If so, what sort of supports are offered? ( therapy, support groups, reference to others who might be able to help with specific needs?)


Discuss fees and if you decide to make an appointment to discuss diagnosis processes, be sure you understand how the paperwork and billing will be handled ahead of time, so there are no surprises.

Some doctors will refer you to their offices for this part, that is OK, Be aware of your insurance company’s needs regarding diagnostic assessment, etc… do you have to get the appointment pre-approved?

More discussion about finding diagnosis soon.

Note: This process can be very discouraging and frustrating, especially for those of us who have struggles using the phone, camera/video communications, or have anxiety. Self care is so important.

Be aware that finding proper diagnosis is not generally easy for most of us today. (autistic elders).

Things will take a lot of time and we may reach many dead ends or barriers, but we are not without alternatives in most cases.













Proprioception

Knowing where you are in relation to absolutely everything else.


Autism is based in our bodies’ uneven neurological development.

Proprioception is the sense (based on our neurology) that tells us about our bodies in relation to our physical world.

Proprioception tells our bodies we are going fast on our bicycle, when we run, or in a car.

Proprioception helps us navigate through a crowd of people or a room full of furniture, or driving our cars or bikes, through the traffic, or walking, running or moving our wheelchairs through the, hallways, rooms, navigating doorways, ramps, etc etc successfully.

Proprioception is what helps us stay upright in rough terrain or keeps us from crashing into things.

Proprioception is what tells us how hard to hit the nail with the hammer, how much force to use while trying to open the jar lid, how hard to pull the shoe strings when tying our shoes, how hard to pull or push to open the door, etc.

We use our sense of proprioception every day to inform ourselves about how to proceed in almost any situation.

If you have been given a diagnosis or dyspraxia or ataxia, your proprioception is definitely affected.

When our proprioception is “off” we can run into furniture or smack ourselves passing through doorways, fall off our bicycles (if we can ride them at all!).

Those of us with poor proprioception can stub our toes or smack our knees, elbows, or hands repeatedly when accidentally passing to near any object, including other people.

Poor proprioception means we may be the kid in gym class that can’t catch the ball and gets hit in the face every time, instead. We are the ones who are yelled at for being clumsy, for standing or following too closely, told “watch where you are going” and “hand’s off”. It is not something you “grow out of”, but I have learned that the right kind of therapy may help in some cases.

As we age, our bodies do not have as much strength or responsiveness and we are at risk of falls. To a certain extent, we can help ourselves by being aware of risks such as marking steps, removing throw rugs, providing hand rails, and other reasonable accommodations.

Proprioceptive therapy, whether self administered or through an occupational or physical therapist can be very helpful.

Do it yourself: there are loads of videos on the internet as well as charts, diagrams, pictures, etc which explain how to help your balance and how to strengthen yourself and train your body to be able to use it more safely. The thing is, it is something that needs to be done frequently. If you do a set of exercises one or 20 times, and then quit, you gain nothing. The body needs frequent input and practice for these new ways of moving to be effective.

Join a class: There are many classes these days for seniors, either online or in person, which teach yoga, Tai Chi, and other ways of using your body for best effectiveness.

Therapy: Ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist or occupational therapist who can help you learn new ways to use your body to prevent falls and injury.

There are loads of lists of proprioceptive activities for autistic children, and many of these may also be applied to adults of any age.

Join a group: you could even form your own with one or more others interested in meeting for practicing proprioceptive exercises and outings together.

Examples of proprioceptive activities : Hiking, Biking, pushing or pulling anything, playing catch or kickball, hackeysack, or dribbling or bouncing a ball against a wall and catching it repeatedly.

Standing on one foot for as long as possible ( of course use a grab bar or other support to catch yourself if need be).

Jump rope, bounce on a trampoline or an old mattress, or simply jump up and down, both feet or one foot at a time.

walk “one foot in front of the other” forward and backward. Use a line on the ground/floor to guide yourself, if you need to.

Walk between cones, then walk backward or sideways from each side, the combinations are endless. The idea is to carefully perform each of these things being aware of your body movements, your weight distribution, and your position as you perform each one.

Shovel, lift weights, do pushups on the floor or against a wall.

there are books written about this stuff! There are so many ways we can enhance our proprioception and help keep ourselves safer from accidents and falls.
Please be aware that we as a group (autistic elders) are more prone to falls and injury as we age due to our neurology. Know that you CAN do something about that!

Most of us have problems with proprioception, but we can take action to protect ourselves now that we know this.

If you don’t know how to proceed, ask for help from others.

There is no shame in reaching out for information and learning how to do something new.



Autism in motion

Talking about the way we move and our sensory experiences


An online discussion in an autism group the other day got me looking up information on proprioception and motion in autistic folks.
I looked at several studies and was disturbed by a series of reports which discussed the differences in the way people move. Comparison was done on limited numbers of young autistic adults and children and a similar group of neurologically normal/average (neurotypical or NT) adults and children. It has been discovered that the autistic ability to adjust oneself to one’s surroundings (proprioception) seems not to rely on visual input, but other senses are used more strongly instead.

It was suggested that this finding could be used to correct the way autistic people carry themselves and how we move.

My own autisistic neurology has been tested to be 25th percentile visual processing performance, and 35th audio processing performance. My NEUROLOGY is set up differently enough that I do not function well using vision and hearing in my everyday life. I must rely more on still images, written words, and the sense of touch (smell and taste too) to get understanding of my world and to make my way. The idea of training me to use my vision to have better proprioception is ridiculous.

This goes back to the many studies that show us some little fact about a certain group of autistics studied and the conclusion that because we do things a certain way, now we know that, we can correct it.

Take it a step farther for illustration : because we know Terry is in a wheelchair and doesn’t walk, we can make Terry walk by teaching him/her to use their legs. or, taking it even to more extremes,but referring to another neurological condition (also one that appears in a high percentage of the autistic population) knowing when somebody is epileptic, learning how the seizure occurs, we can teach epileptic folks not to have seizures. Wrong conclusions.

Wrong, too, to study small groups of people, 23 in one study I read and 100 in another, and draw the conclusion that ALL of us are the same in our use of vision or any other sense.

So many so- called studies are so absolutely blind to common sense.
Studies still try to lump our different neurologies into a one- size -fits- all, “everybody all together with the same signs and struggles” with lots of assumptions about function (If a few are like this, all must be like this).
It is true that many autistic people, probably the majority of us, struggle with proprioception.
It is also true that autistics can be outstanding athletes and performers of physical feats both small and large motor oriented.

Along these lines of proprioception and motion, I found discussions and studies about autism and the need for proprioceptive input.
When we “stim” we are seeking feedback from sensory stimulus.

Swaying, rocking, spinning, flapping, slapping, stomping, throwing oneself against a wall, or the floor, biting or squeezing oneself, scratching, pinching, burniing, cutting, jumping,walking, running, etc are all seeking sensory input.

I spent a lot of my childhood doing many to most of these things to myself at one time or another. I had another of those “aha” moments recently, while thinking about this.


As a young teen, I walked everywhere, all over our town, both daytime to and from the school,( about a mile) the downtown shopping district (about 3/4 of a mile away) the library (about a mile). Then when homework and evening dinner and dishes were done and the rest of the family sat down to watch television, I left home and walked and walked and walked.
I remember walking to the far side of town and thinking I would walk as far as one street went. I ended up far out in the corn fields, barns, and unlit spaces of rural country. I walked back home, too.

I have realized how important this walking motion had been to my ability to survive my daytime life.
I was stressed all day at school, came home to even more stress, and in summer vacations was most stressed of all because even the stressful school situations were less distressing than my home life and the situation I grew up in.
My walking helped relieve the distress, tension, stress, anxiety, and gave me focus, gave me plenty of proprioceptive input in seeing new surroundings as I walked.

Feeling the ground beneath my feet, feeling my body in motion, walking over various terrains and making constant adjustments to that and allowing for avoiding traffic, avoiding other people, thinking about where to cross at intersections and how to avoid giant mud puddles, barking dogs, etc, the scents, the sounds in each place I passed through; all provided loads of proprioceptive experiences without my having to worry about the troubles “back home”.

My thoughts turned to the caged “big cats” and other animals in any zoo situation, dogs and cats kept as pets, and the horses I have worked with all these years until my recent retirement.
In cases where natural activities are restricted, these animals develop quirks and ticks of behavior. They rock from side to side, shift their feet in a specific pattern, changing balance from one foot to the other. They self mutilate, They kick the walls or chew them, or do all of the above. They may eat their own feces, urinate inappropriately, have unnatural rituals or participate in patterns of destruction of their surroundings. Check with any zoo keeper, stable hand, or kennel worker, check with pet owners!
Confinement under unnatural or stressful situations needs to provide an outlet. Those that don’t get this natural outlet will find other ways of expressing their needs.

How much of that can we apply to people confined to their homes, to support /care institutions, to hospitals and nursing homes, to situations such as schools and offices or day care?


All of it!!!

Highly intelligent in our own human way, we probably need a lot more support in those confined situations.

Humans are indeed animals, and our natural state is to be in motion.

If we provide plenty of opportunity for more natural proprioceptive input for animals in zoos and horses in stables and confined to small paddocks, or to pet dogs in apartments or houses , many of the unnatural behaviors are limited in expression or fail to appear, disappear in those with established habits.

How can we provide opportunity to move naturally for those who are restricted to rooms, houses, institutions, or other unnatural surroundings, especially those of us in “captive” situations?
Think of children at home, think of children at school, think of all those adults in any situation where their actions are constantly controlled by others.

Think of ways we might be able to help so many who self injure, have unwanted habits of seeking proprioceptive stimulation in unhealthy ways.

What can be done to help provide healthy activity instead?

There is no way to express how strong a need there is for awareness of this principle in the autistic/autism communities and classrooms, homes and institutions of today.

I read so many complaints and distressed queries from staff and family members where somebody is hurting themselves, and what do we do?

think about the multiple ways to provide proprioceptive input that might be available and pour it on!

More about ways to provide proprioceptive input soon.

Autism and energy



Autistic exhaustion : why life is harder for us.

First, let me say this is not some sort of one upsmanship social game, ” my life is harder than yours, poor me!”
I am not looking for sympathy, empathy, etc, I simply want to explain about the amount of effort and energy it takes me or most any other autistic person to do “everyday life” in the mainstream of society.

We ( human beings) all have struggles, I know, and circumstances in life can be very hard.
Consider that what is effortless and natural, maybe even subliminally understood has to be derived for most autistic people through conscious effort to focus, sort information, categorize it, decide what response is required and to call upon memory and training to elicit the “proper” response.

None of it is “automatic” or intuitive, but for many autistic folk, must be constantly viewed, heard, felt, sorted and processed before we can perform.

It requires a great deal of purposeful behavior, directed in consciously thought of and deliberately performed ways to do what most neurotypical people do from some natural store of saved information and programmed, automatically accessible responses or actions.

Many of us (autistic persons) do not have intuitive understanding about any activity or situation.
That means we have to work hard to understand and come up with the correct response.
Meantime, sensory input is not automatically sorted into background noises, background activities, which is important at the moment and which can be safely shut down (most of us can’t shut input down) and ignored. So we expend mental and emotional energy trying to sort information we recieve from all our senses all the time.

Almost every act, every word , in any social situation requires deep focus and concentration, strict control of responses to self edit and direct words and actions, and conscious attention to not only the person or persons involved in the interaction, but also to keep from being overwhelmed by the other things going on around us, by the emotional responses or anxiety to do well and not “mess up” the interactions, sort visual, audio and other sensory input and grasp what is needed to perform the interaction at the same time as trying to keep all the other sensory input from overwhelming or intruding.

Most “normal” “average” or “neurotypical brains” do this stuff automatically, but for many autistic folk each part of any activity or interaction must be consciously sorted and directed, and in so many cases, this is done much more slowly and deliberately since any response is not automatic.

The major underlying automatic response for me is to be afraid… afraid of what will happen if I mess this up, afraid of making somebody angry or annoying them, afraid of being mocked or bullied or chastised, afraid they won’t understand what I am saying or that I won’t be believed. Coping with this feeling of fearful anxiety takes energy too.

I have a terrible time trying to sort out what is being said, what is actually meant, what is expected of me, and what I should do to respond in every situation. Depending on our sensory processing, the problems other autistic folks have in interacting may be very different from my own.

Unless the setting is exactly the same every time, each experience is new and I have to decide carefully on my responses or dig through my emotional and mental response resources to draw from scripts saved in my head. This is conscious, and not automatic. I can “lock up” or “freeze” when attempting to find the correct response, especially if I feel pressured to respond quickly. Worrying about whether this “freeze” might happen adds to stress and distress of the performance anxiety which is always present in social interactions. Stress drains energy and emotional resources too!

Practicing scripts is useful, and has proved helpful over my long life, but they are only useful if I can find them in my mental files and recognize the opportunity to use them. I can get the scripts very wrong, and can misapply them, leaving aggravation or bewilderment, dismissal and rejection in my wake. So very frustrating.

Communication struggles are one of the core struggles of autism.

These struggles take place all around me every day, even at home.
It is much more difficult to succeed in interactions in unfamiliar places, places with loads of sensory input (lights, sounds, activities of people, machines, traffic, or other unfamiliar surroundings) and it takes a lot of emotional and mental energy to perform under stressful and distressing (to me) circumstances. Things many neurotypical people take for granted must be dealt with as individual actions needing sorted and active responses considered, sought and sorted from previous experiences and applied consciously rather than as simple perception and responses typical of “normal” folks.

No wonder I am exhausted after a day out, whether planned activities for fun, or things I must do as part of living life and the things life brings to us.

Emotional and mental resources give in to overwhelm. Many times after doing things in the “outside world” I come home and almost immediately require a nap!

If you are autistic, you probably understand what I am trying to convey,

If you are not autistic, I hope I have helped you understand why some things that seem so easy and simple for you are actually very difficult for many autistic persons.
I hope you will take this into account when planning activities, outings, or any other situation where you may include us in your agenda. I ask that you will help us find a way to escape the activity if we become overwhelmed, and that you will forgive us and not be offended if we don’t fully participate, leave early, or decline an invitation.

Please understand: Even the seemingly simplest activity can be very stressful and difficult for those with autistic neurology.