Written in July 2023
Around 10 months ago I wrote a piece reflecting on the period between 2020 and 2022, and what had happened in that time. I have just read it again and it's been a sobering reminder of how much of a struggle those 24(ish) months had been. This is something that's quite typical of my (and perhaps the general) autistic way of thinking – not remembering emotions of memories, and not even particularly attending to facts from the past unless prompted.
I was reading a research paper yesterday about the ability of autistic children to report past behaviour (so, where in a room they read a book, for example) and it seems like this is something we do have challenges with. Hopefully writing these reflective pieces will serve as a processing activity and as an aide memoire when I forget just how much I have achieved through various periods of my life. I do surprise myself sometimes when I look back.
When I wrote the reflection piece in September of last year I had been receiving mentoring since early May. This mentoring was to help guide me into employment delivering neurodiversity training in workplaces, and I am very pleased to say that I have achieved that goal, delivering my first session to a Home Office team on an away day earlier this year. Since then I have designed bespoke training for a charity that helps young women, and delivered a full day of training to Halfords. This week I'll be doing two half-days online, and I've just taken on an in-person session on Monday. I'm not always that busy with it, it's just worked out that way right now!
This blog was set up as part of that journey, as a way of getting my words and thoughts out there and having some sort of presence online. I've joined a great community on LinkedIn where I post my blogs and have made some new connections. I also post my blogs on Quora, where one was read by Julian from Autistic Radio. That led to me being a guest on one of their broadcasts in February, and I am now a regular collaborator/contributor and have taken on some personal projects directly related to that association.
Autistic Radio led me to be involved in a really interesting PhD project looking at developing a dementia screening tool for autistic adults; the first cohorts of diagnosed people are now at the age where cognitive decline typically starts so the need for something like this is emergent. I am enjoying reading and learning about anything related to that, and about ABA (my current deep dive topic)
I've also been deep diving into apraxia and motor difficulties and have made a friend in the multi-modality communicator community with whom I hope to create some podcasts for Autistic Radio and provide an open door (or a seat at the table [other furniture based analogies are available]) for people who don't speak out loud to have their thoughts heard.
On a less work-focused note, I have still been foraging and have made some effective skin creams for healing bites and stings, and for healing soft tissue injuries like bruises and sprains. I've experimented with more infused alcohol and can't wait for an excuse to try my wild garlic vodka in a Bloody Mary! I've found nettle seeds to be a really effective gentle regulator for my ADHD (which is probably a part of why I have managed to achieve what I have, because I've been able to stay on top of a workload that I could not have done a year ago).
I started doing yoga daily in December, missing just 17 days in 6 months, and that's been a great help with managing my physical issues, has helped a little with co-ordination (my left and right discernment ability has actually improved) and has also helped shape a mindset where time for myself isn't an afterthought but a vital component of every day.
I couldn't have predicted how the last year has turned out and even though I had a positive feeling about it, that didn't tell me anything about what my life would look like in practical terms. I am happy with my work, both the paid and voluntary things I do, and I feel that I spend my spare time effectively, indulging in my interests and managing my wellbeing, and actually resting properly!
Let's hope that in 12 months I'm able to say that things have stayed stable and I am still in a good place.