Let’s discuss HF autism and honoring your body
Formerly referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, it is not currently recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis. (WebMD).
Let me preface this blog with my acknowledgement that I have a lot to learn. I wanted to post a quick blog on the subject of HF autism, sensory processing disorder SPD, and the debilitating desire to crash in the form of naps. I just woke up from such a nap. I woke up groggy, then refreshed, then with a desire to gather my thoughts and pen them to paper. It is therapeutic to me to find a home for these errant thoughts, so they stop swimming in my mind and I can lay them to rest (I wonder if this is the ADHD inattentive type in me).
Sensory processing disorder (see WebMD as it was my first source for blogging today) is the inability for folks like me to habituate to everyday stimulation: sound, light, touch. It feels like everything irritates me, and everyone else around me is unbothered. It hurts.
Today I had an amazing morning. Just phenomenal. I woke up ready to start my day. My kids were in a good mood. Al was in a similar sunny mood and enjoyed his commute to work, all twenty steps to the loft where he works from home. I was primed for success.
And I had the most productive morning in ages. I am not exaggerating when I say I completed two weeks’ of tasks: organization of bills, case management of my daughters, my own health needs, appointments, checking in with my older parents, and more. Summer home-schooling my three daughters, attending to their exceptional needs, providing a stimulating environment amidst COVID/shelter in place, and making sure they were only consuming appropriate material on their devices (I’m looking at you, YouTube).
So come this late afternoon, I crashed. Inside my heart and mind I was still riding the wave of energy and productivity. My mood was positive. But my body was protesting. After playing Animal Crossing with my eldest daughter, my littlest one snuggled up with me and I succumbed to my tired body.
I used to carry SO MUCH SHAME on this aspect. I was convinced there was something wrong with me, I was of inferior quality, and I must be garbage since I just never could get my crap together. I was known as the lazy sleeping one in my extended family and among my social groups.
Receiving my HFA diagnosis was the event that set me free. I am able to complete more tasks, to contribute so much more to my family and immediate community. I know the source of my overwhelming fatigue and so I shed the shame I was carrying about my body.
But I still crash. At least the depression and shame have been set aside for the most part. I am managing my anxiety a lot better. I still take the medications I have been using for an extended period of time.
But I honor my body by taking these late afternoon naps. I acknowledge my extreme privilege across the board. I am a fortunate and lucky person. My life is such that I can do all these things I do in a day.
I urge you to take a nap, if you can. If you are in my shoes, please be gentle with your mind, body, and spirit.
If this describes a loved one in your life, please try to envelope them in understanding. It is a heavy burden to bear. Simple, everyday tasks are draining. They might not understand what they experiencing. And maybe they do, and they are self-shaming and isolating from loved ones.
If you are the caregiver or partner of someone like me, seek your own support system. It is a draining vocation. It is exhausting to watch and support your loved one as they suffer.
More to come, as I have only scratched the surface here.
Sending you all the warm fuzzies,