Being on the autism spectrum can be a difficult experience, as it can affect one’s emotional regulation, sensory input, and communication skills. For those of us who are also parents or providers for our families, it can be an especially challenging task to ensure that our loved ones feel safe and secure. However, through years of research and self-discovery, I have found five practices that have greatly improved my abilities as an autistic provider for my family.
1. Meditation and breathwork: I do my best, every day, to set aside an hour for intense breathwork exercises and long retention holds in order to improve one’s body’s resilience to stress. Breathwork exercises such as Wim Hof, Alkaline Breathing, and Breath of Fire help to activate the body’s relaxation response, which increase resilience to feelings of anxiety and stress. In addition, meditation can do the same for the mind, which can be particularly helpful during times of stress.
2. Prioritization: One of the most difficult aspects of being on the autism spectrum can be knowing what to focus on and how to make decisions. However, by considering factors such as cost, value, emotional attachment, and urgency, one can begin to make more informed decisions. For example, when faced with multiple tasks, it’s important to first create a sequence of most to least valuable, then consider your current emotional state and the perceived value of each thing, then the relationship between the costs and what you have available in that order. It’s also important to consider the emotional value of a task and whether or not it aligns with your personal values and goals.
3. Knowing your time horizon: This refers to how far ahead you can confidently plan. It’s important to keep this in mind when something feels urgent, as it can help to put things into perspective and determine whether or not a task or situation is truly time-sensitive. For example, if you have a time horizon of a year, a change that occurs this month may seem urgent. However, if you have a time horizon of a week, then something that happens tomorrow may feel more urgent. By understanding your own time horizon, you can better prioritize tasks and make decisions that align with your long-term goals.
4. Understanding that nothing is truly urgent: This can be a difficult concept to grasp, especially for those who are prone to feeling anxious or stressed. However, it’s important to remember that urgency is often a perception, and shortening our time horizon, especially when coupled with breathwork and meditation, can be a good solution. Taking a step back and assessing a situation can help to determine whether or not something is truly time-sensitive. In many cases, a task or situation may feel urgent, but it is not actually as pressing as it seems. By understanding this, you can better manage feelings of stress and anxiety, and make more informed decisions.
5. Knowing the difference between a good and bad decision: This can be a tricky concept, as it can be difficult to determine what constitutes a “good” or “bad” decision. However, a good decision is one that prioritizes the most important tasks, while a bad decision is one that tends to something less important first. It’s important to prioritize and make decisions that are proportionate to the value of each task. For example, if you have a list of tasks to complete, it’s important to prioritize those that are most important, rather than focusing on the easier or less important tasks first.
In conclusion, being on the autism spectrum can be challenging, but by incorporating these five practices in your daily life you can improve your ability to provide for your family. Remember that it’s important to take care of yourself and prioritize self-care as well. Remember to take your time and don’t rush through the process, it’s a journey that takes time and practice.