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Tricky Topics in Autistic Lives

Last summer, the team at Autism Wellbeing were discussing our social media posts and the lovely feedback we’ve received. Lots of the most popular resources we share on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, have been suggested by the families and individuals we work alongside. These have included an information pack about faecal smearing, a video about masturbation, and insights on sensory processing and periods/menstruation.

Time and time again, parents tell us about how their Autistic child’s life experiences are so often misunderstood or mislabelled. Their child’s normal exploration of their body or their ways of soothing or calming themselves may be viewed as inappropriate, just like their sensory processing differences may be seen as overreactions.

In our ground-breaking work on Sensory Trauma, we investigated the ways in which responses to sensory experiences are always proportionate yet may differ markedly between and among individuals.

For Autistic people, the ordinary, everyday events and interactions from which Sensory Trauma may arise include using the toilet, wearing sanitary or incontinence products, even being kissed or hugged by a loving relative. Parents and professionals have shared with us how they find it difficult to broach and discuss some of these issues. Parents may feel judged, embarrassed or uncomfortable when trying to talk about their concerns.

At Autism Wellbeing, our professional experience includes working alongside families and individuals to provide direct support, training and supervising staff teams and providing clinical interventions that support individuals to live more fulfilled lives. We are experienced in broaching and discussing these potentially tricky topics. Our expertise also derives from individual team members’ lived experience of autism. We want to make a difference not by producing information sheets “about” these topics but by creating resources that offer an opening to discuss tricky topics in the context of everyday life.

We believe that, just as each autistic individual is unique, so too is their family set up and the relationships they have with the people around them. We recognise that life can be complex and that individuals and families often have to overcome barriers in order to access the information and support services they need. We like to work alongside people on their journey as equals and we recognise that parents are the experts when it comes to their children.

Creating our “Tricky Topics for Autistic Lives” resource has been an opportunity to challenge ourselves and to reflect upon our own understanding of how Autistic people may experience the world. You’ll see that each topic is presented in a single document with some brief information about the topic and then three sections that prompt the reader to:

How the Autistic person presents and how this may look to others...

What may be going on for an Autistic person in this situation and what may deepen our understanding of their ways of being in the world.

Here, our aim is not to cover all eventualities, rather to prompt the reader to consider things from a different perspective.

These are ideas for understanding the Autistic person and responding to them in supportive ways that validate their experience.

At Autism Wellbeing, we were delighted to be awarded a grant by the Postcode Community Trust to create resources for the first 20 Tricky Topics. We were also delighted to be selected as a Co-op Community Fund Cause, as this will enable us to increase the number of topics further. If you don’t shop at our local Co-op in Carmarthen but at one near where you live, you can still support us by following the link and selecting Autism Wellbeing as your Co-op Chosen Cause

Please visit our webpage where you can download our Tricky Topics in Autistic Lives resource pack.

We would love to have some feedback on these resources as well as your suggestions for topics which you feel should be covered in our Tricky Topics resource pack. The button will direct you to a very short form.

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