A Guide to Autism for Newbies

I took a mindfulness guide and turned it into an Autism Guide! It's short and sweet, but it includes a lot of things I've learned along the way that might help you whether you're autistic or you love someone who is autistic, or if you just want to be ready to be a better friend. Remember our brains are wired differently, and every single one is different, so what helps me might not help others; but here are some ideas on where you could start. **This is representative of my own experience. All autistic people have different experiences and needs. This does not represent them all, or even all of my own.** ***Please do not call it the 'tism unless you are autistic. It is a slur reclaiming type of situation, and only autistic people can reclaim it.***
Getting Started: A Guide to the 'Tism for Newbies (I mean Autism. Swipe for More) April Marie Mai
Getting Started: A Guide to the 'Tism for Newbies (I mean Autism. Swipe for More) April Marie Mai
Settle in. We're in for a ride! Sometimes we need absolute quiet. Sometimes we need every stimuli at once. Squishmallows might help. Noise-cancelling headphones, too. All the little things that people don't notice? Yeah, we notice almost every one. Some will really bug us. That's valid. People will have to adjust to us. We've already been adjusting for others. -April Marie Mai [included image: detail of colorful abstract impasto painting]
Settle in. We’re in for a ride! Sometimes we need absolute quiet. Sometimes we need every stimuli at once. Squishmallows might help. Noise-cancelling headphones, too. All the little things that people don’t notice? Yeah, we notice almost every one. Some will really bug us. That’s valid. People will have to adjust to us. We’ve already been adjusting for others. -April Marie Mai [included image: detail of colorful abstract impasto painting]
Now breathe. Finding ways to regulate is important. Mindfulness may not work for us. Some of us are constantly mindful already. Double mindful is painful. Our brains are structured differently. They also work differently. Ask Autistic people what we need and help us get it. We might not know. That's normal too. You're going to have to try a lot of things. One might work. That's good. Celebrate! Now find the next little change that might help. -April Marie Mai [included image: another detail of a colorful abstract impasto painting]
Now breathe. Finding ways to regulate is important. Mindfulness may not work for us. Some of us are constantly mindful already. Double mindful is painful. Our brains are structured differently. They also work differently. Ask Autistic people what we need and help us get it. We might not know. That’s normal too. You’re going to have to try a lot of things. One might work. That’s good. Celebrate! Now find the next little change that might help. -April Marie Mai [included image: another detail of a colorful abstract impasto painting]
Stay Focused. Let our brain not have to focus for a while. It is constantly running and whirring. The fewer demands on it, the better. Find what down times it likes. Try a few. How about an interest?  A stim toy? Putty? Slime? TV? Something to hug? Throw? Push? Twist? Less light? Less sound? More sound? There are a lot of different avenues to explore. Each is a new adventure. You can do one at a time. Rest so you aren't overwhelmed. -April Marie Mai [included image: another detail of a colorful abstract impasto painting]
Stay Focused. Let our brain not have to focus for a while. It is constantly running and whirring. The fewer demands on it, the better. Find what down times it likes. Try a few. How about an interest? A stim toy? Putty? Slime? TV? Something to hug? Throw? Push? Twist? Less light? Less sound? More sound? There are a lot of different avenues to explore. Each is a new adventure. You can do one at a time. Rest so you aren’t overwhelmed. -April Marie Mai [included image: another detail of a colorful abstract impasto painting]
When you're ready, open your eyes To the beauty of our path and our brains. Differences are good. They make life interesting. Follow and listen to Autistics. Validate our experiences of the world. We learn together. Some things will fit for you, some things won't. Each person's autism is different. -April Marie Mai [included image: another detail of a colorful abstract impasto painting]
When you’re ready, open your eyes To the beauty of our path and our brains. Differences are good. They make life interesting. Follow and listen to Autistics. Validate our experiences of the world. We learn together. Some things will fit for you, some things won’t. Each person’s autism is different. -April Marie Mai [included image: another detail of a colorful abstract impasto painting]
Take 10. Autistic brains can take longer to process things. It's best if you work that time into the plan. Learn to adjust your plans to your needs. You'll never be able to guess everything ahead. A good bag is helpful for carrying autism stuff. It's okay to need help. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to decide not to push yourself. It's healthy to learn how to rest. We can model how to rest for others. -April Marie Mai [included image: another detail of a colorful abstract impasto painting]
Take 10. Autistic brains can take longer to process things. It’s best if you work that time into the plan. Learn to adjust your plans to your needs. You’ll never be able to guess everything ahead. A good bag is helpful for carrying autism stuff. It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to decide not to push yourself. It’s healthy to learn how to rest. We can model how to rest for others. -April Marie Mai [included image: another detail of a colorful abstract impasto painting]
A friendly reminder: This is just my experience! Check sources, and always exercise sound judgement. Look for an autism expert who focuses on the autistic person's needs and experiences. Sources: Mai, April Marie. “My Autistic and ADHD Brain.” My Head, 23 Sept. 2022.  AprilMarieMai.com -April Marie Mai
A friendly reminder: This is just my experience! Check sources, and always exercise sound judgement. Look for an autism expert who focuses on the autistic person’s needs and experiences. Sources: Mai, April Marie. “My Autistic and ADHD Brain.” My Head, 23 Sept. 2022. AprilMarieMai.com -April Marie Mai

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