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Internal experiences of Autism

Internal Experiences of Autism: A Perspective from The Autistic Teacher


Autism is often associated with traits that are seen on the outside with little recognition or understanding of what is happening on the inside. Just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening or any less valid. This is where it becomes vital that we learn about autism from autistic people- those who actually experience it.


Autism And Gender

There is a misunderstanding that autistic girls have autistic traits that are internalised and that autistic boys always show autistic traits externally. This is incorrect. Any gender can present with autistic traits that are internalised or externalised, so I want to make clear that this is not just a girl thing! Autistic traits could be internalised by anyone.


Sensory Differences

We might actually be hypersensitive AND hyposensitive! You could be a person who is hypersensitive and find touch uncomfortable, while enjoying deep pressure hugs. Or maybe it’s those lighter touches, when someone just brushes past you that feels uncomfortable. It can also depend on other things… being tired, or full of energy, anxious or already feeling overwhelmed. Our sensory profile can fluctuate.

All of these feelings are internalised. We might show our discomfort or enjoyment on the outside… hand flapping, smiling, grimacing, turning away… or we might suppress our sensory experiences like discomfort. For example, sitting in a room that’s too hot, too bright or too noisy… because you feel that’s what is expected of you. That masking and suppression is exhausting and takes its toll on our mental and physical health.


Situational Mutism

Autistic people can sometimes struggle with communication and social anxiety. This can lead to situational mutism. Often it is dismissed as ‘oh they’re just shy..’ but as someone who was situational mute as a child and can still experience it now, it feels like someone stole my words! It’s more than just shy. There’s literally no way and no choice. All the words in my head are swirling round and can’t come out. The devastation, the anxiety, the frustration are all internalised.


Echolalia

I knew about echolalia…repeating sounds or words out loud…but I experience words, questions, sentences, sounds repeating again and again in my head. Sometimes over each other. There’s no way of turning it off. Trying to focus on something when my head is spinning with words can make me feel physically sick and bring me to tears. My echolalia is internalised and can be overwhelming.


Hyper Empathy

Although there is sometimes still an autistic stereotype that autistic people don’t have empathy, many autistic individuals often experience heightened sensitivity and empathy! Hyper empathy can make it difficult for us to filter out the emotions of others, leading to emotional exhaustion and sometimes even burnout. It can feel very overwhelming to watch particular films or programmes or to be in an emotionally charged environment.


Anxiety

Anxiety can have a significant impact on the daily lives of autistic people. We may experience heightened anxiety due to challenges with social interactions, sensory differences, and past autistic experiences. It can lead to increased stress in social settings, anxiety in unfamiliar environments, anxiety around foods (AFRID), difficulty focusing on tasks, rigidity of routine, increased masking which can lead to exhaustion, shutdowns or meltdowns.


One way to support autistic people is by practicing empathy and patience, and striving to learn more about autism. Internal traits are just as valid and important. By being understanding and accommodating, we can help more autistic people feel more comfortable and accepted in their daily lives.


Supporting The Autistic Teacher

If you have enjoyed my work and would like to support me in my mission to help the Autistic Community, feel free to buy me a coffee. Please only donate if you can afford to do so. Everything given is very much appreciated. ❤️

Thank you! You can also help to spread the word by liking, loving and sharing my posts. ☺️


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