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It was a far more positive experience for me than the event which formed the subject matter of a recent work vignette. The afternoon discussions were practical, and produced some tangible results that might actually help to shape the services we deliver and give us some concrete objectives. From an accessibility point of you, everything had been handled pretty well.

I, and a fellow autistic working in our section, had received plenty of advance information about the structure of the event, and details on the format of specific activities. But the first exercise of the day felt problematic for me — we were each asked to pick a shape that we felt most closely represented who we were as individuals.

There were a fair few of us squiggles, including a not-insignificant number of neurodivergent folks in the room. I associated the squiggly line with dynamism, energy, creativity, exploration, lateral thinking, and a busy, active mind.

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Boxes are too rigid; circles have some appeal to me, with their lack of endpoint, their sense of unity, continuity, inclusiveness, and something of the holistic. We were asked, in individuals then groups, to note down words associated with each of the shapes — the ones we most strongly identified with, our second choices, and those with which we identified the least strongly. But whilst it was not intended that we read too much into this, I was reminded of all the times when people have levelled criticism at me without fully understanding me. Various members of my family, and I myself, are experiencing a fair few health challenges.

Which means I find myself resenting the ideas that come to me. After the away day, I was tired. So much listening. So much processing. So little rest. But as the working day finished earlier than usual, I decided not to go on a long wild walk, but instead to take my usual route home through several of the local parks but do so more slowly, more mindfully. Rather than feeling the compulsion to experience the expansive, the large-scale, the landscape at macro-level as is often the case when I chose to take myself outdoors to shake off my overwhelm , I was compelled to examine the outdoors in miniature.

I stood watching bees pollinating flowering bushes and shrubs. I was fascinated to note that certain types of bee preferred certain plants. I appreciated, for perhaps the first time, the what-should-be-damned-obvious fact that bumblebees being insects have bodies like all other insects that are articulated into three distinct sections rather than being a somewhat indistinct ball of fuzz with a head, legs and wings. Closer to home I spotted a ladybird perched atop a valerian stem. I noticed its mouthparts, antennae, the articulation of its six limbs, its individual pattern of spots, and the smaller segmentation of its thorax, visible briefly on the underside of its body as it clambered over a leaf stem, beneath the modified wings that were its scarlet, polka dotted shell.

A garden spider, minutely patterned in greys, beiges and taupes. A particularly tiny example of the species.

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It had just begun to construct a web between several valerian stems. The radial threads were already in place, and at the point I started to observe the tiny creature, it was in the process of strengthening the centre. As I watched, it finished this stage, before constructing a few non-sticky spiral threads to allow it to scamper to the outer reaches of the structure, before spiralling inwards with the final, sticky silk that would form the completed web. I had never before appreciated the meticulous complexity, or the beauty, of the web-spinning process itself.

I relaxed. I smiled. I took solace in nature doing its thing. And I appreciated my brain again. Appreciated my love of detail. My love of close-up examination that is just as strong as my love of patterns, connections and the bigger picture.

Walker McGuire - "Mama's Kitchen Table"

My ability to enjoy such things without having to quantify them, or question whether or not I should be spending my time enjoying them. A cube-shaped cardboard box, ornamented with a pink, purple and cyan floral pattern and dispensing crisp, white tissues, sits on a low wood-effect table. Having greeted me as she led me to the therapy room, the woman sitting opposite me has remained silent since we both sat down. I try to work out my opening gambit. What is the first thing I should say in this situation?

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What does she want me to say? Talk about what my week has been like? Small, black insects had clung in loose but numerous clusters to the stingingly bright, sweat-soaked synthetic fabric. Body odour, food smells, raised voices, untidy piles of papers, leaky pens, thirst. No hiding places. This is a college. It is not acceptable to speak like that in front of students.

The breakup was awful. You were away when it all happened. We all have struggles. Searingly bright sunshine streaming through the window behind my manager, silhouetting her face and making me squint at her through barely-open, scrunched-up eyelids.

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But I cannot have this sort of thing happen again. What makes me anxious, overwhelmed, panicked, angry. What makes me calm, happy, blissed out, joyful. But this ability to look after myself is continually pushed to its limits, and beyond. It seems that the more I learn to cope with and overcome, the more I get another load of difficult stuff shunted my way. By gosh, I still have a lot to learn.

A couple of months ago, I put together a stim kit. I was sick of having random bits and bobs floating around in my bag, in each of my different coat and jacket pockets, or scattered around the house and on my desk at work. Sick of repeatedly misplacing favourite objects and toys.


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Things getting rusty, encrusted with grot, scratched or broken. But having small items to hand makes things easier in a lot of circumstances. I wanted to give myself more options — a stim for every mood and every occasion. I personally let other people both autistic and non-autistic try out the stuff in the bag from time to time. I like to, but we all have different preferences. Very recently, I put something similar together for my daughter six years old at the time of writing. These are just things that suit me. Obviously, the main bag itself is a stim item.

Tactile and interactive too. This is for items that either:. The other things that go everywhere with me are my bullet journal learn more at the official bujo website , and my dinosaur pencil case , full of lovely coloured pens, pencils and fine liners. Doodling is a stim, but bullet journaling is another absolute life-saver in helping me organise my life, stay mindful, and keep as sane as possible.


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Over the summer, I also had made for me a weighted blanket and lap pad. What he had failed to grasp as thought, her last gesture, the last supple huskiness of her voice conveyed. Was it in his heart this dreamlike fugitive sadness dwelled, or did it steep the feathery air of the kitchen?


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  4. He could not tell. But if only the air were always this way, and he always here alone with his mother. He was near her now. He was part of her. The rain outside the window set continual seals upon their isolation, upon their intimacy, their identity. When she lifted the stove lid, the rosy glow that stained her wide brow warmed his own body as well. He was near her.

    mental health | The Misadventures of Mama Pineapple

    Oh, it was good being here. He watched her every movement hungrily. The writing is erotic, and David is no-doubt in love with his mother. Because of that, they become closer than sons and mothers often do. And many passages of description throughout Call It Sleep are written in heightened, poetic language like that passage. The sheer sincerity of the emotional outpouring in every sentence would be considered unstylish if it were released today.