My Autistic I...
I have spoken to several Psychotherapists over the years about Autism and about being Autistic myself, I noticed a common belief held. That Autism is a 'part' of a person, not the being. Having researched into this over the years, and heard a lot of Autistic people speak on this, it seems this comes from the disability way of thinking. That it would be somehow 'unkind' to say a person was fully autistic. Oh it's just a part! Or just a little bit autistic. I have yet to meet an autistic person who identified with this. Autism diagnosis and education is really quite a new thing. The young people who were first diagnosed and identified are now adults and are thankfully placing themselves where they can be heard. It is so important for us all to learn about Autism from autistic people, not people observing us! Who best to understand 'how we work' than us. Of course neuroscience plays a brilliant role in the study of Autism, but again, we are at the beginning stages of that science too. While we await more actual information, instead of psychological guesses, maybe the autistic people themselves could speak?
I can't be a bit of a woman. Or a bit of a mother. I am a woman. I am a mother. Those identities are inseparable from who I am. Considering Autism is an under-pruning of neurons as we develop as babies and children, it is all about our brains. Tonnes of extra neutrons, with the same amount of connections. So we are really good at focusing, and doing one task at a time, or using one part of our brains at a time, but very challenged in using multiple parts at once. Because there are millions of extra brain cells, with a regular amount of connections. So this is our brain. And as you know the brain, connects every bit of us together, every cell, every muscle, every sense, every thought, every dream, every feeling, every pain, all is connected to our brain and nervous system. Obviously. So how can be separate our brains, from, us? Could you? Could you, reflect inside of yourself and disconnect your brain from any aspect of yourself? Most people tend to see our brain as the organ that controls our 'mind' or our 'thinking' but it really is involved in every single aspect of ourselves. Our brain connects itself to our body through the spinal cord. And branches out to all areas of our flesh. There is no separation. Mind-body. Even neuroscientists agree that there is no way to separate mind-body, and they take it as one. There is no divide.
In psychotherapy we spend a lot of time learning about models of 'I'. This drove me crazy when I was learning about it all! Such phrases as, authentic self, the 'I', ego, super-ego, real self, true self, I could go on. Theories. Theories. I am a very literal person, (Autistic trait) so had absolutely so clue what was going on. How vague. Until I read that the way to know who you truly are, is to feel it. Okay, that's a map. I followed that. So shifting from theoretical living, into experiential living was pivotal for me. My first degree is in mathematical physics, and then I went on to study Psychotherapy. So that really was mirrored in my internal experience at the time. Moving from theory to experience. Being Autistic, I lean towards living in a theory. I can get so stuck in ideas and figuring things out, that I can get lost for years, trying to figure problems out. Theoretically. The moment I turn away from that and prioritise my felt-sense in my body, my experience of my life, I fly. This is extremely relevant for autistic people, but for everyone too. Who can't identify with living in their heads too much? So in the experience of living, in the feeling of being, we come home, and find truth. How we feel, what we need, what to do next. The body is the landscape. I have had to learn and re-learn this many times. And in the felt landscape, we find our 'I'.
I have often heard quotes from very successful physicists, like Feynman and Eistein, speaking of the power of not thinking. Of accessing music or art, as you work a problem out. If you want to solve a problem, don't think about it. We are still so mysterious, how exactly we sort stuff out in our heads. While the science of sleep takes huge strides forward in explaining the power of our dreams for uncoupling trauma and emotional stress, or how when we enter flow state, we access parts of our brain that are the most evolved, we still are massively in the dark about our inner mechanics regarding 'who we are' and 'how we operate'. When you go to your therapist, you do not get scanned right? No blood tests? No DNA checks. It's all theory. The importance of neuroscience cannot be overstated in getting some information on how we actually work, in terms of our mental health. But until the day that is available to us all, in our therapy offices, we need some sign posts and strong guidance home.
The body. The felt-sense. The experience. Emotional flow. These paths, always lead home. While the head can go relentlessly for years, ever tangling and untangling, and tangling. The emotional river always flows home. It is impossible to change the brain with the brain. You have to access the body, to affect your mind/brain. Joy, music, pleasure, sensuality, exercise, good food, fresh air, nature, crying, laughing, being full of life. And while the brain is extremely important for planning, and problem solving in the day to day, it has limited capacity to truly set us free within.
So while being Autistic, and seeing the world through Autistic eyes and through an autistic sensory system, may not be relevant for you, seeing the world through 'your' eyes and through your body and sensory system is. What about you? Can you begin to flow home, through your experience? Through your 'I' ? Can you access your feeling? Your dreams? Your pleasure? Your soul? Can you learn to experience your life, wild and free, through your body? Can you give thinking a rest? And let the experience of your life guide you? Is that flow state? Taoism? I think so. So while, my autistic I, may be very different from your non-autistic I, we are still the same. Still the same mechanism home. Still the same challenge to live body-based, emotional and free. Diving into yourself to discover who you truly are. Can you live your life today, senses your surroundings, feeling what you feel, bringing yourself pleasure and peace whenever possible? Can you set yourself on fire with desire and unlimited dreams? Can you put away your thoughts, just for today, and step up into a freedom that can only belong to you? Try it, and watch what happens!