I’m not your typical “positivity guru.”
I don’t have time to measure whether a glass is half full or empty. I don’t think of who has it worse, because I can think of who has it better. And I don’t count blessings, because their quantity has nothing to do with their quality.
So when I share some of my autistic positives, they’re not gimmicks. They’re not tricks in the sense of generating wealth by pulling a coin out of a child’s ear.
When I talk about positive outlooks and tools in autism, I’m referring to actual, replicable, tangible things that help my autistic experience.
See that gigantic tree? It’s not just a tree. It’s a tool. I enjoy this tree.
So every morning, I make a point to plug it in first thing. I’m the last to see it lit each night and the first to see it lit each morning. Why? Because I love the way it looks, and I intentionally put time into making it visible in my memory and my routine.
So that’s one tool: a big good thing in the routine. And it’s sorely needed this season!
This holiday has brought to mind a few more. I’ll share some:
Say ‘Yes’ and complain later. I can way more often say no to a lot of things. I’m practically Dr. No, like my father before me. But when it’s coming time for Christmas events with my kids, I’m just lightly brushing it with logistical though and saying ‘Yes.’ I’m not overthinking. If it’s a short event, yes. If it’s cute, yes. If it’ll make the kids smile, yes. So even though I froze my nose off at an outdoor tree lighting ceremony, I captured a small pocket of good memories and deferred the far fewer complaints afterward. Sometimes you have to know your map and where you can make the shortcuts.
Embrace what you love amidst what you don’t. I had to endure a bit of an awkward, uncomfortable change in one of my routines, where there were going to be some different events, seating arrangements, and transportation detours for an event. But despite all that, I didn’t have to drive. So I applied that tool with force, hugging that small and lovely fact with both my arms: I don’t have to drive. I DO NOT HAVE TO DRIVE! Sure, it might be insignificant and not enough to make up for the rest of the odd arrangement, but, y’all — I didn’t have to drive. And I loved it, and I hyperfocused to embrace it.
Tell yourself how funny the story will be. One of the reasons people find me funny — I’m an advanced “coper” with many faults, slights, wrongs, and tragic turns that age well into comedy. I’m often more sad than I ever let on to people. I’ve spent more of my life frowning inwardly and laughing outwardly. But then I think, “Gee, if things weren’t so bad, where would I get my jokes from?” Other than my daughter pooping through her tights and leading me through a calamitous episode doing haphazard laundering with a soap foam dispenser in a public restroom, I don’t have a recent story to recount. I just remember that in the moment, despite how sharp the awkward conversations and autistic abrasions may feel, if I can just live to tell the tale and practice my comedic timing, then at least I can tell a few good yarns at the next uncomfortable party I endure.
I’d be interested in some of your tools too! To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — or follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Twitter / Instagram.
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