Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Strongholds, Throne Rooms, and the Wilderness

In my experiences as a person with autism, I have found that there are certain areas and situations that strike me as certain archetypes. No matter the particular nuances of the situation, they ultimately fall into one of these three: The Stronghold, the Throne Room, and the Wilderness.

Everyone, no matter if they are on the autism spectrum or not, has a stronghold: a place where they go to retreat, to get away from all of their troubles and undo their stress for a time. For an autist, however, this stronghold is of even more importance. The world around them has so much more stress than a neurotypical's world, and a place where they have total control of their

The Throne Room is an area where an autist feels comfortable. This area need not be a particular physical location, but it usually is. The important thing, however, is that there is an air of acceptance; that they will not be ridiculed or shunned for expressing themselves. A throne room could then be a particular group of friends, or a topic of conversation that the autist has expertise in.

Finally, there is the wilderness; an alien land, both fascinating and frightening. Neurotypicals can experience the wilderness as well, but for an autist, it is a matter of everyday life; the sensory overstimulation can be maddening at times. Keep this in mind when you talk to an autist; they may not be consciously ignoring you, but simply trying to make sense of the world around them.

Hopefully knowing more about how the environments are seem to us will help neurotypicals understand how to approach conversations, which will, in the end, help everyone coexist in relative harmony.

1 comment:

  1. My grandson is 8 yrs old and autistic. We are currently dealing with him being expelled from second grade because of his anxiety and behavior. If his school understood what you write about here, this would not be happening. His family fully understands his very strong need for a stronghold, a throne room (his family who adores him), and a wilderness. The school environment for him has always been one of stress. I imagine he feels like an animal trapped in a corner who has no choice but to fight his way out. He is always running away, hiding under tables and verbally threatening teachers and other children who have bullied him from day one. He has no cognitive inability to learn but his social issues, his emotional fears and anxiety and his anger at school are the problem. The school district has refused to provide the services he needs and we have hired an attorney.

    My intent here was to tell you that I appreciate your insight and explanation to others of how it feels to be autistic. I hope someday children like my grandson won't suffer as he has because of people like you.

    Also my grandson has been involved in an equestrian program for about 3-4 years at Victory Gallop in Bath, OH. He loves it and the horses have been very beneficial to his development. Keep up the good work there also!