I wanted to let you in on a part of my life I’ve been fairly private about until now. As many of you know, I have been playing the game that so many of us middle aged, chronically ill people play: unpacking which symptoms are actually illness and which are just parts of myself I’m no longer able to ignore. For me a large part of this mystery was solved with a realization of autism followed by an official autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis in 2021.
I have written a version of this letter about 500 times over the past couple of years. If I shared everything in my heart, this would be a book rather than a newsletter. So let’s just consider this a place to start the conversation.
First please know, I haven’t been intentionally secretive, I just needed time to process and learn about what this means for me. For some, like myself who was/are largely unaware of what autism looks like in adults highly skilled in masking their traits, this is a surprise. For others who are more knowledgeable about autism, this all makes perfect sense.
Please also know this isn’t a sad thing I’m sharing, this realization has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me because it explains so much! The bouts of non-functioning exhaustion I’ve experienced and felt so much shame over are actually very understandable and predictable autistic burnout due to me not knowing how to take care of myself.
The love of and reliance upon repetition, ritual, and routine aren’t annoying traits, but actually reasonable, necessary ways for me to give my very busy brain a rest.
The seemingly conflicting strong need for connection and community, coupled with needing lots of alone time to recover from social situations, is actually a common struggle for autistic people, and completely understandable when taking into account that social interaction doesn’t come intuitively to an autistic brain.
Sensitivities and executive functioning issues just have to do with how my nervous system is organized. The tendency to invert words, or have trouble talking at all when I’m exhausted. The list goes on and on. I am finding new ways to accept and love myself daily, which is what I wish for us all.
There is nothing you need to do differently to meet my needs. In fact I am quite grateful for how you, have held me through illness, injury, and severe autism burnout. During most of this time I didn’t yet know what was going on with me, so I could not even ask for what I needed. And somehow your support came through anyway. You’re amazing. Tears come to my eyes when I think of how lucky I am to have you.
Below I included a graphic and a link that are meaningful to me, and helpful as I began to learn about autism. The graphic shows the difference between how we’ve historically understood autism and what current research, taking into account autistic experience, tells us. We are learning the autism spectrum isn’t a straight line representing more or less autistic with Asperger’s syndrome on one end and severely autistic on the other. As a point of interest, Asperger’s syndrome was retired from DSM-5 in 2013. Rather the Autism Spectrum is a circle representing individuals on the spectrum’s talents and struggles.
See you on the mat soon, as we continue to get to know ourselves and each other!
Weekly Practice Schedule
8:15 am Forrest Inspired Vinyasa – Studio HALO and Zoom
7:15am Forrest Inspired Vinyasa – Root River Zoom
8:15 am Forrest Inspired Vinyasa – Infinity and Zoom