Go to todaysautisticmoment.com for the transcripts.
Each Autistic individual has their unique blend of what triggers or soothes them. Subjects that trigger the fight or flight response. Sensory needs such as loud music is your partner's soother, but it is your trigger. Watching the same TV show over and over again is your soother, but it is your partner's trigger. You are Autistic and ADHD, your soothers and triggers will overlap. Ashlyn Baker is a mental health professional and owner of the podcast I Married Your Therapist. Listen to Ashlyn and I talk about how to work with overlapping triggers and soothers.
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Overlapping Triggers & Soothers in Autistic Relationships
November 5, 2023
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Thank you for joining me for this episode Overlapping Triggers & Soothers in Autistic Relationships. Ashlyn Baker is my guest for this show.
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The one quote that we must commit to memory is “If you have met one Autistic person, you have met one Autistic person.” It is easy to memorize, but not so simple to practice. Each Autistic individual will find that our triggers and soothers are unique from another Autistic’s triggers and soothers. Last May, Rose Carriero mentioned that her Autistic son finds listening to loud music as his soother, but it is Rose’s trigger. Last June, Daren Howard said that one of his triggers is physical affection, but his Autistic child likes to get Daren’s physical affection as their soother. Two Autistics can be working in the same office. One Autistic loves to use a fidget that squeaks to soothe, but it trigger the other’s auditory sensory needs. The other Autistic might find that using a small handheld fan helps soothe them, but it triggers the other. It is possible to be Autistic and ADHD and the triggers and soothers of both are working simultaneously. Some triggers may come in the form of talking about a topic that triggers their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Other triggers might be that one Autistic spouse watches horror movies as their soother, while it triggers their spouse’s. One spouse might like classical music to soothe themselves, while it triggers their spouse who only likes heavy metal. How do we work with the triggers and soothers?
Ashlyn Baker, MA, LCMHCA, is a queer and Autistic clinical mental health therapist. She specializes in working with folks who are queer, neurodivergent, or just exploring their identities, helping them to embrace their own brains. She is also a speaker and advocate for the neurodivergent community and hosts a weekly podcast with their husband Price called I Married Your Therapist.
Following this first commercial break, Ashlyn Baker will join me to talk about Overlapping Triggers & Soothers in Autistic Relationships.
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Ashlyn Baker, welcome to Today's Autistic Moment. I am so excited to have you on. So welcome to the show today.
Thank you so much. I'm so excited to get to be here.
Yeah, I'm excited to have you here. Well, my inspiration for this particular interview comes from some shows that I've done recently, particularly to do with Autistic parents who have Autistic children who have spoken of how the Autistic parents and the Autistic children have their triggers and soothers that they had to learn to negotiate or compromise with, or how to, you know, get people get their Autistic loved one to stay off their triggers or make room for their soothers. And we know that these are things that can occur with coworkers who may be Autistic, they can of course, you know, happen with us if you've got two Autistic, or if you get neurodivergent spouses. Their neuro divergence may be one different from the other. we know where that I kind of hit those triggers, and soothers, including but not limited to when it comes to sensory processing. So, I really wanted to have a conversation about how these overlap, and maybe some strategies as to what we can do when they do overlap. And we may not exactly be in a position to control some things. So, I want to start with my first question, of course, what important information do you feel Autistic Adults and our supporters need to know about when we speak of overlapping triggers, and soothers in Autistic relationships?
The first thing that comes to mind for me that I think is really, really important for people to know, especially when it comes to dealing with these things in the relationship, that's a parent child relationship. But this is going to apply to everything as well. A lot of times is being triggered by somebody else, stimming using some sort of self-soothing, soothing measure is going to be not only might it trigger a sensory issue for us, but it's almost definitely going to trigger something that maybe we weren't allowed to do when we were kids. So, something that comes up a lot when I'm talking to parents about working with their Autistic kiddos, maybe the parent is Autistic as well, is that they weren't allowed to run around the house and move their arms or flap their arms in the way they needed to. They weren't allowed to be loud or to do certain things. And so, when their kid does it, not only is it a sensory issue, but then they're also dealing with sort of that like, honestly, a trauma response that comes up when it wasn't safe for you to do something, and you want your kids to be safe. So, you automatically want to protect them from doing this unsafe thing.
Yeah. Yeah. And I, and I guess we could talk about that, that also can happen with, say, Autistic or neurodivergent spouses
Sure, it's definitely playing a role with spouses and with that sort of thing, too. If it's something yeah, get in trouble for it's going to be something where extra sensitive about.
Yeah, I see that we're kind of touching each other's trauma point. Sort of trauma point maybe. Yeah. Well, let's consider some examples of how a trigger or soother might overlap. Particularly one that I've heard of is that, for example, one of my guests last spring spoke of how their Autistic son likes to listen to loud music as something that soothes them, but that's a major trigger for the mother. And so, they've had to negotiate things such as, when the Autistic son wants to listen to the loud music, the Autistic mother simply moves into another part of the house, you know, things like, you know, how we cope with how those things interact? So, let's talk about a few more examples like that. If you can come up, you know, can you come up with some that we could talk about?
Yeah, absolutely. I think noise is always going to be a big one. So, the loud music is going to be one. I think one that's big, maybe especially in parent child relationships, but could also be present in romantic relationships or partnerships, is going to be any sort of like touching a need or want to be touching. Somebody shaking their foot or leg maybe, I think can be one where we don't even know that we're self-soothing that way. And maybe our partner is really sensitive to the movement. What else comes to mind? I think, Oh, yes.
I can think of one that one, for example, where someone might be hypersensitive to the sound of a foot rubbing the rug. Yeah. You know, that sounds really, but that's their soother. Yes. You know, that's kind of that sort of thing. You know, maybe one uses a fidget, for example, that tends to make a little more noise. You know, or, you know, someone soother there might be to, you know, watch a particular TV show that the other one just doesn't, isn't interested in, and that sort of thing. So therefore, that sort of thing can be tough.
Having the same thing on TV, I think, in that same scenario, where maybe it's the same show again, and again and again, and you're like, ah, we watched this already. I'm so sick of this. But it's the comfort show for the other person.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, the other I mean, I mean, the topic of triggers and soothers, I don't think is really limited to sensory processing. It can also be the things we talk about versus the things we don't talk about the things we can control the things that we really can't. Can we talk a little bit about those sorts of things, as well?
Absolutely, I think something that's a really big deal in this community is, you know, of course, we all have things just as humans, where maybe something is a sensitive topic to us. But then particularly for Autistic folks, we tend to care really, really strongly about the things that we care about. And we want to talk about those things all the time. So, we might run into a situation where it's not just a casual topic of conversation, but the thing that we really want and need to talk about need to process want to continue exploring, is that thing that's very sensitive for the other person that we're in relationship with. And that can be super hard to.
Yeah, especially where it's something that can't exactly be avoided. Yeah. And, and sometimes, you know, it's also a matter that this particular matter seems to be something one is hyper focused on, maybe they can't be hyper focused on it. And unfortunately, it's going to hit the trigger of the person who's very sensitive to that particular matter. Because right now, they're almost hyper focused, if you will, on how much that is hurting them. Yeah, yeah. So go ahead.
Oh, absolutely. And we're so into, you know, I think like pattern recognition plays a role in this, we tend to take whatever our you know that that topic is, and we see it as connected to everything else, we can't talk about this thing without talking about this other thing, because it's all connected. And then for the other person, if they have really strong feelings about it, or maybe have had a traumatic experience around it, or it's just one of those things that's particularly escalating to their system. You know, a lot of most Autistic folks, certainly most of the Autistic folks I'm encountering, we've got this chronic dysregulation going on, we've got such a sensitive system, we don't tend to have access to environments that are continually soothing for us. So that's really tough. And we might always be kind of on that verge of activation. And so, somebody bringing up that sensitive topic, we might not have the bandwidth to be able to say, Oh, this isn't something I can talk about, or this is something I need to step away from, it might immediately escalate into, you know, an argument or something breaking out because it's Yeah, its sensitive practice.
Yeah. And one of the things that happens in that, in that moment of triggering, of course has that fight or flight response. You know, and so it's, you know, I would return to what I've said in the past that when one is going through that trigger moment, there's that sense that one can't really be rational at that point. So, to try to rationally talk it out, it's not exactly going to happen.
Exactly, exactly. And that's what happens. So, when we go into fight or flight, we get that rush of anxiety when we're triggered by something. Our brain, because it loves us and is protecting us and doing what it needs to do to help keep us safe, ends up shutting down non-necessary functions. And one of the functions that it shuts down is the front part of our brain, which is where we process logic, which is where we have interpersonal interactions, it's where we put names to our feelings, and are able to express all of that. That makes sense, biologically, because fight or flight is about usually running from like a threat or a predator. And if you're running from a lion, you don't need to turn around and have a conversation with it. But now we're being triggered in an environment with other people where we're talking about sensitive things. So, when you get into that fight or flight response, your brain very lovingly shuts down that front part of your brain so that you can more effectively run or fight. And, unfortunately, that makes it almost impossible for us to have a rational conversation at that point.
Yeah. I'd also like us to talk a little bit about what can happen when we have when we are multiply neurodivergent such as I am Autistic and ADHD. And we know that, you know, the Autistic wants structure, the ADHD just does not. You know, and sometimes those are overlapping with each other, the trigger, and the soother, right, where there's multiple neurodivergence going on. I mean, and that means that we've got to deal with, with the conflict within ourselves, is what we have to deal with, you know, so, talk a little bit about that. And later on, we're going to talk about how we can do some self-advocacy, as in helping us in ourselves in those moments when, when the triggers of our multiple neurodivergence is kind of clashing?
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That's so important. And it's a really big deal in the community, given that a huge percentage of this population does have overlapping diagnoses does have overlapping types of neurodivergence. And so, it's very, very common to experience this. And like you said, there can be a lot of conflict their kind of internal conflict. I always think the ideal thing that we get to do when it comes to thinking about our triggers and soothers, is that we're getting to think about this at a time where we're not currently feeling triggered, and we're not currently in need of soothing. So, if we get the opportunity, when we're feeling settled, when we're feeling like our rational brain is engaged in all of that, one of the things we can start with is thinking about kind of what our go to soothers are, and what it is we really like about those things. So, if you really like, I don't know, maybe it's, maybe it is like rubbing your foot against the carpet or something, which is something difficult. And maybe on the one hand, it's soothing. And on the other hand, it's triggering, what is it about that sensation that's really good? Is it applying some deep body pressure? are you pressing really hard against the carpet? If so, there are so many great ways to also apply that maybe without the noise. So, let's say rubbing your foot on the carpet is also bothering your Autism and you're hearing, maybe that's getting a big, weighted blanket to sit on top of you or going and getting a nice big, long hug from your significant other or doing something like that. But yeah, outside of that moment, being able to think what are the common parts of these soothers that I'm using that really helped me? And how can I find those in other places? The other big thing is knowing the things that just are helpful in general, that typically what we're looking for kind of regardless, because this is what our nervous system needs, so this doesn't have to do specifically with Autism. It doesn't have to do specifically with ADHD, or with anything else. It's just what a nervous system likes, and we all have one of those. So, a couple of things that our nervous system really likes, our Big full body movements, something that allows us to feel our body moving in space, so maybe that's a big turn with our arms swinging. Our nervous system tends to like deep pressure, it tends to like the feeling of swinging again, that's our body moving in space. You going upside down, lifting something heavy, all of that really engages that core system. And so, if you're trying to think of okay, what are my new soothers going to be? What am I going to add in finding things that touch on those areas is going to be super helpful.
After this next commercial break Ashlyn will talk about the importance of making plans before someone’s soother becomes the other’s trigger as to what to do, along with some great self-advocacy tips.
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This is one of those places where I like to insert my second question, what are the barriers for Autistic Adults, when it comes to our triggers and soothers? And one of those barriers can be that when it comes to sensory processing, once you knock one off the keel, it kind of sets them all off. You know what I mean? So true. So, do you know what I mean? So, when someone is in that mode, the question is, how do you know, and sometimes the only thing that can be done is when they've all been triggered at one time, sometimes the only thing that can really be done is just to take a day to just do a lot of soothing however you do that. Whether it's doing nothing or, or just being alone, or just trying to be around somebody if that's what helps you but, you know, you know, when the ideal is just not reachable, that can be really, really difficult for us. So, respond to that. Yeah.
So, a couple of thoughts here. One is, again, before we're getting to that moment, if we can be thinking about the stuff that's helpful to us. So, something else that I think is really important is if we can build in stimming and soothing behaviors into our daily life. So, for instance, I'm sitting on a yoga ball chair. And so just during the day, I'm getting to bounce, and I find that when I'm getting up for my workday, because I sit all day, being a therapist, I'm so much more regulated, when I'm getting to sit in this chair, where I've moved, and gotten to wiggle around in the ways that I need to, I'm already kind of lowering that. I guess I'm raising that threshold, I'm giving myself more space, because like you said, when one thing is activated, kind of they all get activated, we've reached our threshold. And so, one thing is getting to build that in, but when you're in the instance. Like you said, where it's gone too far, you're in that moment, it's too late, and everything's feeling really triggered. Two things can be really key. One is if you can get access to any sort of controlled environment. Maybe that's creating your own controlled environment in a pinch by like getting to have earplugs or something that settling down or playing music for yourself, stepping out into another room stepping into the bathroom, the things our body kind of tells us it wants to do anyway. But the more control you have over the space you're in, even if nothing changes, and you just have that sense of control, that does a lot for our nervous system to help us settle back down. And that's another thing to be able to plan ahead for. Okay, when I'm in this space, when I'm at my office working, for instance, where would I go that I have control over my environment? What do I have access to, so that I could go find a moment of resettling when I need to. Like you said, sometimes it's been going on for too long. And we're going to need maybe to take a whole mental health day to be able to do that. And then the other thing that's really, really helpful for us and something that I actually use in session when a client is feeling chronically dysregulated like that. Our special interests are actually a huge, a huge opportunity for us to regulate. And often when I have a client who's feeling really unsettled, they're feeling really stressed and frustrated, and they just can't get out of this moment of dysregulation. We just start talking about their special interest. And it's amazing, the way that just moving into that space, where they feel so interested and engaged moving into this thing that's safe and known and fun to explore immediately starts to have this soothing effect. A really big deal for us and a great tool to have access.
Yeah. Yeah. I love how you just said that. You already touched on this, but the thing is, is that we haven't always been encouraged to think about how our sensory processing and even those special interests we have, the stimming that we may do. We haven't always been encouraged to pay attention to those. You know, back in September, when Lisa Morgan and I were talking about us Suicide Prevention for Autistic Adults, you know, she talks about, you know, helping Autistics to discover their strengths and things like our sensory processing, and that sort of thing. What she would have to say is that our sensory processing is a strength. But the thing is, is that the way society works, unfortunately, or the neurotypical society works is that they see our sensory processing our special interests, they see those things in the pathological sense purely, and they don't, they don't see it as just, it's the way that we regulate ourselves. Go ahead and talk a little bit about that if you want.
Oh, it's so true that so many of the great things we're talking about that are exactly the things that can help you to soothe that can help you to get back into a regulated state are things that there's a lot of shame around, you know, it's not, you know, I talked about the list of here are some of the big things that our nervous system likes, well, where can you flip upside down in your office space? Where in the grocery store does it feel comfortable to get to swing your arms around your body and really help yourself to regulate? And those are inherently dysregulated environments anyway. And so, I mean, I think it's everything from like, shame, and embarrassment to looking childish to actually being in danger, over doing those sorts of behaviors really being identified as either something being wrong or being too different and being unsafe. And so, there's a lot of this built up. And I think a lot of the times our masking that comes into play, where we stop caring about our special interests, we stop investing in, you know, these body movements that feel so good for us, we stopped doing the things that actually help us is, is to safely exist in this world, which is, yeah,
Yeah. And, you know, it can be so difficult to try to explain to someone who's, who is not Autistic, not Neurodivergent about why this is needed. And, you know, yeah, these things can be really rough.
The thing that I have found, I'm so sorry, the thing I found to be really helpful for folks, because I think, especially when we're now you know, adults thinking about these things and thinking about what can I do? I think a lot of adults who are Autistic or maybe have discovered that their Autistic as an adult, don't even know what their special interest is, they don't know if they have one, they don't know, if they do engage in that, you know, that might not be one of their Autistic traits. Or they might think I don't really move my body in a way like that I don't really have these sensory sensitivities, because it's been so long of masking. And not all of these things are 100% of Autistic folks. But you know, so something that I find really, really useful. Kids are so much more intuitive about what their body needs, about what they're into about what works for them. And so, if we're able to kind of step back and go, What did I do as a kid that I loved? What did I do as a kid that I got in trouble for? What did I do as a kid that maybe other people tease me about? And is that something I could regain access to? Because probably as a kid, you knew a lot more about what worked for you and your system, then maybe you're allowed to have access to now.
Well, now I'd love to move into what steps should Autistic Adults and our supporters take to advocate for our needs? And I actually haven't talked about this a long time. But I'm going to now. You know, there's three pieces of advice that I give in just about any conversation I'm in. One is you must become the expert about your own brand making model of Autism. You really owe it to owe that to yourself, and to those who advocate for including yourself. If you don't know, or, if you're not the expert, I don't. I'm not saying the expert the expert, the one who knows you best. Okay. If you don't, if you don't become the expert at that, then it's hard for you to advocate for something you don't know about. Or you can't you know, and then you also do need to become the expert at communicating to others what being Autistic means for you. And so, this is where I like to talk about, you know, when we're feeling those, those triggers, especially, we need safe spaces. I am a believer that, you know, actually I've got my office here and I've also got a room next door we I call that a safe space. And me and my husband have an agreement that if I go into that space and I have we actually have a sign on both of these doors that turns around Autistic Safe Spacing Do Not Enter, you know, that sort of thing? Yeah. So, um, you know, this is where we need to talk about some of those self-advocacy. Give us some ideas of what you what of your suggestions about advocacy with the sort of thing?
Oh my gosh, well, you're spot on with us really needing to understand our own brains. Because, you know, one Autistic person is not like another Autistic person. And, and, yeah, I think the more access, you have to understanding your own self and the things that you need, and also keeping in mind that those things change over time. Yeah, and so continuing to be curious about yourself. And curiosity is something that I think keeps us engaged with our self in a really healthy way and with others, the way so when you're cultivating that curiosity about yourself and about others, you're going to be a lot more likely to be able to have those conversations to be able to advocate for yourself. And curiosity is something that's non-judgmental. So, as you're exploring those things about yourself, again, we have a lot of shame, often tied to those parts of ourselves the things that stand out or seem different from, you know, neurotypical culture and everything. And to be able to, to have that nonjudgmental curiosity towards yourself as a big deal. Advocating for our needs. Another thing is to really learn about boundary setting and how that works. I think a lot of times our understanding of boundary setting has been, don't do this thing. But that's a rule. So, boundary setting is always about us and our own needs and not about controlling somebody else's behavior. So, to be able to learn to say, this is a thing that I, I need, I need a quiet space, instead of saying you can't be loud. Because again, like we were talking about this, overlapping triggers and soother, sometimes that is what somebody needs to regulate. And so being able to talk about ourselves and talk about ourselves in a loving and non-judgmental way, and then be open to problem solving with the people in our lives, instead of instead of trying to dictate other people's behaviors, because that's when we run into conflict. And we run into, we don't get to hear each other out when it starts off with,
Yeah. Yeah. And this is where, you know, I think it's fair to say especially for we're dealing with a trigger and a soother in an Autistic relationship with another Autistic person. I think, you know, our difficulty comes from the fact that we do know what it's like when our triggers get touched. We know what the other person is going through, but they're just going at it from a different point of view. And as has been pointed out, by many of my guests, we like to be people pleasers. We like to please, especially another Autistic person, another neurodivergent person who is being triggered by our soother. So, they're, you know, that sort of thing. And, and it's really, I think, it's really difficult, don't you think that sometimes you just have to say, I cannot meet this person's need, the way they need me to. And that can be the that can be very hard, because we know what it's like as Autistic people not to have our needs met. And therefore, we understand what it means for the other Autistic person with where their needs cannot be met by us. And so that can cause a lot of a lot of emotion. You know, we feel disappointed in ourselves, we feel badly for the other person. But again, our control is limited in a situation like that. So go ahead and take off on that one.
When it comes to that kind of people pleasing and high empathy that we have, especially I think, for other Autistic folks where we know what it's like to be triggered, we know what it's like to go through those things. My encouragement to folks is always communicate your needs early and often. I think a lot of times we'll try to downplay our own needs to do the people pleasing thing. Like, it's not really bothering me now. It's fine, it's fine, I'm able to deal with it. I'll just take myself into a separate space, all do whatever. And it builds and builds and builds. And when, when you're in real community with people, when you're in real relationships, you're gonna keep running into those same things. And so early and often saying, you know, I'm, I'm good right now. But I want to let you know that sometimes that sort of noise is really difficult for me. Can we talk that through now? This isn't continuing to build up and we're not growing resentment, and then growing the activation so that we explode. Another thing that my partner and I like to do, my husband and I talk about, is we'll ask the other person to pick a different stim. So, somebody will be stemming, and it's not that you can't stem will go that stim right now it's really difficult for me, could you pick a different one? And then the other person switches and it's a conversation we've had outside of that moment, not in a moment of activation. But that way we get to communicate early and often. So, my husband has ADHD, and I'm Autistic. And so, we have a lot of those overlapping to theirs. And so, it's really been that tool, that term that we use with one another, has been so helpful. And then the other thing that we have is a nonverbal way to be able to say that we're not okay right now, whether it's about a trigger, or it's about something else, just what's going on in our own body, we have a nonverbal way that we've agreed upon to express that to each other. We just packed our chest with both hands and getting to do having both of those tools, knowing that we can ask early and often and knowing that when it's gone past our ability to communicate that verbally, that we're able to communicate it, it gets a different way.
Yeah, I can speak of one that actually has gotten a lot better since we moved in my husband, and I moved into this house here. When we first moved into this house. One of the things that was triggering me is that my office, our master bedroom right here, just to get to the living room from here turns a corner in a right turn corner. When he comes down, of course, he's turned to the left. If he came down that down that thing, and he suddenly turned, he would shock me. Yes, I know what I mean. Startle response. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, I had to say to him, you know, I think we need to do something about that. Because when it does that, and so what we wound up working out was that for a little while, I would say, if you're going to come down this hall, maybe if you text me first to let me know that you're coming, you know, because sometimes the nonverbal is a texting. And I remember explaining to someone what I was doing with this particular matter. So, texting your own spouse to let them know you're coming in, that just doesn't feel right to me. And my response was, Well, the thing is, is that I don't want to be obviously yelling at my husband, because they triggered me okay. And so and so to prevent us from getting into that point, it's just easier for him to turn the corner. Because I found myself having to say, you know, when you turn that corner, and you startle me, I can't respond rationally to you right now. So, I have to tell you go away, and wait until I've calmed down. You know what I mean? And, and we know how difficult doing that can be? Because we like hurt our spouse's feelings. But the point is, is that the point is, is that if that's going on, then you need to find a way to let that person know, hey, this is just not working right now. You know, and you just, you mentioned earlier that triggers and soothers will change, you know, now that we've lived here a little longer, it's not so difficult when he turns the corner. Yes. Okay. So, but in, you know, a lot of our triggers and soothers, of course, comes from changes in routines. Yep. Changes in, you know, house, you know, maybe the shape from one home to the other, and that sort of thing. And I mean, um, you know, moving from one home we used to live in where you had some triggers and soothers worked out, then moving into another one where you've got to suddenly work on redefining those, that can take a while to just make that adjustment. What do you think? Yeah?
Oh, for sure. Any change in our routine or environment, something that is triggering, when we're out might not be triggering when we're in our home environment, or you feel nice and safe and relaxed? Yeah. So, I think what's so beautiful about your solution is that it worked for the two of you that were able to request that text and he was able to agree to do that. And like you said, it even build up to the point over time, where now that you're used to the new routine, and the new shake up the home, and your regular like routines and patterns there, it didn't feel triggering in the same way. But where you're getting that feedback, like a text your own husband, like what are you doing in your own house? Know that like, as humans, our needs are all so different and unique, and they do change over time. And they do change based on relationship, routine environment, all that other stuff. It doesn't have to work for the rest of the world. And I think that there's this thing about us wanting again to like fit in. There's a lot of shame involved in that. There's a lot of fear or anxiety around doing something to stand out. And there's like a lack of safety in that but finding community to deal with people who are willing to go, oh, well, maybe not every couple is going to text one another coming down the hallway. But that's no problem for me, I'd be happy to text you coming down the hallway, we can do that. And just knowing that, like, the solutions to the triggers that you're dealing with in your home, they're going to look different, they're gonna look as unique as the two of you and the space that you're in. And that that's, that that's okay, let's not start from the place of needing to feel like something that somebody else would do in their home.
Yeah, here's one other thing that I recommend, because we were just talking about nonverbal. Sometimes one of the one of the great ways to do this, me and my husband actually does work this out. Let's say I'm in a situation where out somewhere, we happen to be talking to someone, and somehow, something that person or something that has happened triggers me. And I need to let my husband know that because I may have gone nonverbal at that point. So, what we've worked out is I now have this picture. I don't know if you can see it. So, I'm gonna put it up here. The point is, is that it's, it's a blue train coming down a track, okay. So, if I'm feeling particularly like I'm going nonverbal, I just put this on, and I show this to him. And he knows that, okay, he can't talk right now I need to check for him. I've given this, I've given this to my life coach. So that, let's say we're having a conversation with someone about the purchase of an item, and this person is just kind of pressing all my buttons. If I show that to him, or text it to the life coach, he sees that now he knows he's got to intervene, you know, he's kind of help on my behalf. So, so sometimes, I mean, when you're dealing with each other's triggers and soothers, let's say you can't speak sometimes, like agreeing on a symbol that you're going to say, this means I'm feeling dysregulated. This means I can't talk right now. So just having those tools with you to say, this is how I communicate, this is I'm telling you this. That's a great way that's kind of, yeah,
I love that so much exactly that nonverbal is such a discreet way for you to get to share that you don't have to, you know, you're already feeling overstimulated, maybe you've already gone nonverbal. And then you get to still have a way to communicate this, I need you to step in for me here. And that's I have two thoughts about this. One is that there's a lot of frustration and a lot of, I think concern for the future when we're in a relationship with somebody or in community, whether it's our kid or whatever, where we have these overlapping triggers and soothers, where they're different for both of us. And something about your point there that I think is so lovely. And something that I see happen in our home, there is this frustration about having these very different things that are triggering to us. But there's a lot of hope in that. It's beautiful, that the same things that bother me and maybe make me go into a point of being nonverbal or feeling really overwhelmed or activated. They don't bother my husband Price at all. He's great. And that means that when we go and navigate the world together, he is way less likely to be overwhelmed in a situation that's overwhelming to me, and vice versa. And there's something really beautiful about the way that those things that can feel in conflict sometimes are actually some of our greatest strengths and assets. And being in a relationship like that. The other bit of encouragement I have is because we can have so much shame and masking and that sort of thing. A lot of times, Autistic books talk about not wanting to be observed. We don't want to be perceived by other people. And I think that that was something that existed in my relationship for a really long time. I didn't want to be perceived because these things hadn't been safe in my home growing up, if I was perceived as doing something that stood out that didn't put me in a safe environment, right. So, I didn't do those things in our relationship. I tried to keep all of that hidden, kind of on a subconscious level. And so, my encouragement to folks is since I have started working through the process of figuring out okay, what did I used to do as a kid that worked for me? Okay, what are the movements that feel good to me? What's the whatever is I'm starting to figure this out. And I'm doing that in communities, I'm doing it in relationship with my husband or out in public or whatever. And I am being noticed, which is something that used to be really triggering. Price is able to respond to that Price now in a way that has never happened over the other 10 years of our relationship. He knows my triggers too. He's able to watch and observe me and go, how she's going to not be able to. She's going to be feeling activated now. I can step in, and just, it was something that was so fearful to me to be perceived. And it has been the biggest gift in my life to be yeah, that now the people I'm around know me and are able to help me deal with my stuff and I can help them too. So yeah, that would be my encouragement as well. When you're dealing with that one. There's a lot of hope in it to have these different overlapping ones and then allow these things about you to like be noticed by the people you love.
After this final commercial break, Ashlyn will talk about the work she does as a mental health professional and her podcast I Married Your Therapist. Immediately following that, Today’s Autistic Community Bulletin Board.
Commercial Break III
On November 19th, Sarah Dwan will be joining me for the episode Neuro-Affirming Therapy Options for Autistics. Finding therapy options that affirm Autistic strengths can be very challenging. Neuro-Affirming therapies can help Autistic Adults use their strengths to address trauma due to stigma, ableism, and abuse recovery. Sarah Dwan is an Autistic Disability Advocate from County Waterford, Ireland who supports neuro inclusion through amplifying neurodivergent voices.
On December 3rd, Mitchell Schaps from MNeurodivergent will talk about Planning Neuro-Affirming Holiday Social Events. The holidays are full of sensory nightmares for Autistics and other Neurodivergents. How can Autistics and non-autistics plan for holiday events that are Neuro-Affirming? Mitchell Schaps joins me to discuss how to plan holidays events with Neurodivergents in mind.
Finishing season 3 on December 17th, Angela (AJ) Locashino will be my guest to talk about Autistic Professionals Supporting the Autistic Community.
Plans for Season 4 are underway. In 2024 you can look forward to shows about Employment, Emergency Preparedness, The Discrepancies in Healthcare and Education for Black Autistic Adults, Autistic Culture and Language, and so much more.
Check out the Future Shows page on todaysautisticmoment.com for all shows coming up through December.
Do you have any topic ideas for future episodes of Today’s Autistic Moment? Go to the Contact Us page on todaysautisticmoment.com and submit your topic suggestions. Go to the page for Be My Guest to submit a Guest Intake Form if you would like to be a guest.
Thank you for listening to Today’s Autistic Moment.
Ashlyn. I want to talk about some of your work that you do as a mental health professional. And then I'd like you to talk about your podcast, I Married Your Therapist. That's a very interesting, interesting title. So, talk a little bit about those things if you will.
Beautiful. Yeah, well, I am. Yes, I'm a clinical mental health therapist. And I started off working with the queer community. That was important to me, I was part of the queer community and hadn't been out yet about it. And I noticed that I ended up having a lot of clients, who also had the certain sets of characteristics as I was working within this community, not everyone, but a good bunch of them. Because there turns out there's a lot of overlap between the queer community and the neurodivergent community. So as that started happening, I was learning more about myself. And so now I get to specialize in working with neurodivergent adults. And I work with people who are part of the LGBTQ+ and dealing with trauma, again, because we have a lot of overlap there. So, I, my whole mission is that I'm just getting to help people understand their brains, which, like you said, is a key piece of being able to advocate for ourselves, right. So, I love getting to do that. I'm a therapist in North Carolina. But because counseling has become a special interest of mine, because I'm so fascinated in humans, and how our brains work and how we exist in relationships with one another. I was talking about it nonstop, and my husband Price was like, we've got to talk about these things, this would be helpful for other people to know, too. So, we created the podcast, I Married Your Therapist, so it's me and Price, who married a therapist, and we talked about all sorts of mental health topics, and then specifically revolving around neurodivergent, folks. neurodiverse. Relationships. Yeah.
So, the, the theme of I Married Your Therapist is that your husband, married someone's therapist? Right?
My husband is married to my client’s therapist. So, Price married your therapist, and this is what we talk about. This is what's happening behind the scenes, this is what your therapist is thinking about and talking about and feels like you should now. Yeah, session time is so limited in what I'm able to talk about and focused on the person in front of me. And that's great. That's ideal. But this is a space where I get to talk about things that I think apply to whole big groups of people, and that everybody could really benefit from knowing.
Yeah, yeah. And especially since you are a therapist, who yourself is Neurodivergent. And we know that a lot of us just have you know, non-autistic professionals guiding us through these things. And the importance of having a therapist that not only is specialized, but also identifies with us that is so very important and very difficult to find, sadly.
Yes, so many of the folks who reach out to me are reaching out specifically because they're like, I've never had a professional who really understood my experience, not just like studied in school, but who really knows what I'm going through. And I think that's what I really need. And I think it really is what we need, we need to be in community with one another. Oh, yeah, absolutely.
Does your work include doing evaluations and identifications? Or is it just the psychotherapy part?
So, I don't work with insurance at all? I don't the overlap that insurance has, specifically with the neurodivergent community, I think that there's been so much stigmatizing and so many things that can end up being harmful. And specifically, I do work for adults. So, a lot of people aren't seeking out, you know, accommodation through their insurance or whatever. So yeah, I don't I don't do that. But I, I definitely a huge portion of that population I see are people who go, I think I might be neurodivergent. And I'd like to talk to somebody who might be able to help me figure that out. So, I do have the credentials to be able to diagnose and assess and identify. And so, we're getting to talk through those things, but I think in an affirming way, instead of some of the ways that can be really stigmatizing.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, Ashlyn. This has been a fantastic conversation, and I am so pleased to have had you here to talk about this. And based on our conversations, I definitely will be inviting you back to talk about others. So, thank you so much for being here and covering this topic for us. And, wow, thank you so much.
This has been such a pleasure. Thank you so, so much for having me. I'm really grateful for this podcast and for the information that you put out there. It's just wonderful.
Thank you so much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Today’s Autistic Community Bulletin Board
All of these events with their links can be found at todaysautisticmoment.com/bulletinboard
Join The Autism Society of Minnesota for their Adult Coffee Club. The next Coffee Clubs will be on Tuesday nights from 5pm to 7pm at Dogwood Coffee in St. Paul on November 21st. Coffee Club meetings will be at the Milkweed Café in Minneapolis on November 13th from 5pm to 7pm. Please RSVP at ausm.org.
Understanding Autism virtual classes will be offered by The Autism Society of Minnesota. These classes are perfect for Autistic individuals, caregivers, those who want to understand the basics of Autism and support Autistic people. Classes will be on December 18th, 10am-12pm. Classes are free of charge, but you must register to attend.
On Tuesday, November 14th, join The Autism Society of Minnesota at 7pm for the in person skillshop Speed Friending with MNeurodivergent. Speed friending is based on the concept of speed dating where you will get a chance to meet a lot of people in a structured way. Visit ausm.org for more information including the physical address for AuSM’s office.
On December 7th, beginning at 9am to 12pm, The Autism Society of Minnesota will host a virtual workshop about Gestalt Language Processing (GLP). Marge Blanc the presenter will help you outline the six stages of Gestalt Language Processing (GLP) compared to the stages of Analytical Language Development (ALD).
Go to ausm.org to download the 2023-2024 Education Catalog with the details of all the educational and social opportunities offered by The Autism Society of Minnesota.
MNeurodivergent is a social club rooted in a vision of bringing Neurodivergent Minnesotans together to build meaningful connections. Its core principle is to foster an environment where all are treated with dignity and respect regardless of ability or preferences. Go to the bulletin board at todaysautisticmoment.com and click on the Meet Up link to become a member and attend their events.
Matthew the #ActuallyAutistic Coach has room in his Finding Your Autistic Self Group Coaching Groups. In the groups, participants learn about unmasking strategies, coping tools, burnout & post-burnout support and much more. Go to autisticcoach.com and click on Autism Groups for more information. While visiting Matthew’s website, be sure to check out the Free Autistic Discussion Circles for Autistics of various age groups, careers, students, and ethnic groups.
Today’s Autistic Moment is sponsored in part by Looking Forward Life Coaching. Looking Forward turns stumbling blocks into stepping stones towards success. Go to lookingforwardlc.org for more information.
Today’s Autistic Moment is here because of the generosity of supporters and sponsors. Please join the supporters by clicking on Support Today’s Autistic Moment on todaysautisticmoment.com. If you work for a company and/or organization that supports Autistic Adults and the movement for Neurodiversity, I would love to have you sponsor ads on the show.
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May you have an Autistically Amazing day.