By Ann Kagarise, guest contributor to Autism Speaks and assistant director at a school for children with autism
Safety was a topic of discussion during social skills slass, at our school. Our students, on the spectrum, were asked where their safe places are, who their safe people are and how they feel when those safeties are removed. Hands went up around the classroom. Everyone wanted to have a voice on this topic. Collectively, one word was said when safeties are removed: FEAR. Other words used were "confused" and "lost." The more we talked, the more proud I was of these kids. What I heard was resilience, creativity, application, and perseverance to make it in this scary world around them.
Every day is a struggle for those of us on the spectrum.
Someone once asked me about the struggles of my day and I said well it begins with the first breath. I meant it to be funny, but in reality, the moment processing the world begins, struggle begins.
Anxiety is a word that comes with autism. People on the spectrum spend their days self-regulating and looking for "helps" to make sense of the world. I told the kids, my safest place is in my own bed, in my own bedroom, with the door loked AND with the knowledge that all my safe people are in place and that my comforts that calm are there as well. Hands went up. "Me too. Me too," was heard around the room.
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