Following on from the emotional blindness discussed in Mindfulness Part 2, is the assumption that quickly becomes a belief that life is something that happens to you (at you). In autism the concept that one has an intrinsic connection to everything that is experienced is almost impossible to comprehend, or literally impossible depending on which end of the scale of severity the individual sits.
For me this is an element where ADHD comes in as it’s this state of life being something that happens at someone from which the impulsive behaviour stems. There is no predicibility, there is no cause and effect there is only the ‘now’ to which there are no boundaries because it is not possible for there to be too much or too little as follow on concepts to the understanding that all things are connected. (Hence the parenting styles are dramatically different for spectrum kids – they simply do not understand cause and effect)
(It is also interesting to note that this is a state of a person who gets stuck on a traumatic event, is very depressed, or finds dealing with change difficult in the sense that ‘life has happened at me over which I have no control’ ergo I am powerless)
So if life is something that happens at you, how do you have fun? being powerless and having fun are diametrically opposite.
I have always worked with Sofia on positive thinking, however, it’s not enough on its own. It doesn’t bring fun. That is not to say that she doesn’t experience fun in her life, it just means that she has no idea HOW it happens because she has no concept that she is responsible for it’s happening. She needs hand holding towards the realisation that she defines fun and she does that through creative exploits she enjoys and the engagement with task, that it doesn’t need to have any greater meaning than that, and it comes effortlessly (as opposed to the state of distraction which is not the definition of ‘fun’ but a form of escaping because of percieved effort to deal with reality)
Doing photography has become her learning ground for this. It is a creative exploit which she enjoys when she engages with it, but she struggles with doing it because she is demand avoidant as she percieves some other greater expectation. Yet it really doesn’t have to be more than ‘doing’ for enjoyment of being creative and the results of which are satisfying. In what she has done so far (I give her the task of 10 photos every so often) it is clear that the moments where she is most engaged to task, she is producing the best photos – photos that she likes and gains satsifaction from. It is in those moments she has created fun for herself, felt that fun, produced something satisfying with it and at the same time provided herself with a doorway to memories.
Creative = fun = product = satisfaction = memory = creative = fun = product etc.
Sofia is at least letting me lead her towards understanding fun. I set the task of taking 10 photos, she does it (sometimes with a grumble, rarely immediately but she does it), enjoys it, and then she enjoys sitting with me and going through them (oops! a sharing activity has slipped in there creating human connection = more fun). And most importantly, none of this fun is some crazy happy wild emotion, it is just simply feeling good, relaxed and happy.
Why is this important? because this it the point of living. This is where the present moment of ‘now’ exists. This is where creation happens for more positive experiences to enter her life. This is how she will get what she wants as God or the Universe falls over itself to give it to her and all she had to do was relax and enjoy the creativity of what she was doing.
We travel on motorbike and share our story to help raise awareness for autism and the benefits of adventure travel as a platform for learning life skills for autism.
Sofia was diagnosed with Autism when she was 4 years old. When she was 10 years old she under took her first journey in a sidecar from the UK to South Africa. Since then she has started to ride pillion on a motorbike and travelled Europe and this year goes to Eastern Canada. She is now 13 years old and the skills she is learning on this journey are related to maintaining positive mental health. This skill is the hardest of the life skills to learn, harder still in a modern world where materialism and science define life and spirituality and wisdom not because it can’t be bought or proven, it relies completely on faith.