Hello, my name is Jade! And I have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). If you know anything about neuro-divergents, often times, they can be picky eaters. When I first tried the Gluten Free Pops I was nervous I wouldn’t like them. It can be difficult to find gluten free snacks that live up to the originals. But let me tell you, I was blown away! The taste was amazing, and they didn’t have that weird texture gluten free items often have. I immediately bought some for family with gluten sensitivities!
Today I’d like to share some tips with you about how I foster and preserve positive mental health each and everyday. Now, as someone who is neuro-divergent, these things may sound a little different than your typical allistic style advice. Just a reminder, everyone is different and should pay attention to their body and mind in order to find the right tools for them.
1. IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS & ACCOMMODATE YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY
Whether you’re Autistic, have ADHD, or you’re a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), you PROBABLY have sensory issues. I personally get very over stimulated from things pertaining to the 5 senses: bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, uncomfortable fabrics, or new foods. The first step in preventing meltdowns or overstimulation from such things is identifying them. Make a list every time you feel overwhelmed for a week, then go back and see what situations and environments might have caused this. Then, decide how you can accommodate yourself to prevent meltdowns. For example, I always keep noise canceling headphones near by when I’m out in public. Other tools include “safe objects” like a comfortable blanket, your favorite snack (definitely adding OatPops to the list!) fidget toys, or a good book.
2. SAY NO
This is something I’m still learning to do, but I’ve already seen a huge improvement! Just because you have time, doesn’t mean you have to agree to things like: working late, dinner with family, a night out with friends, etc. Taking time for yourself is so important for everyone’s mental health, but especially for those of us who burnout easily from social interaction. It’s good to take a break BEFORE you become burnt out.
3. INDULGE IN YOUR SPECIAL INTERESTS
For those of you who don’t know, special interests for autists are like hobbies, but much stronger! Some of my current special interests include: Cosplay, mental health, Pride, Disney, and video games. I love to find online communities that share my same interests. This way I can discuss them with others without feeling like I’m annoying them with repetitive topics.
4. UNMASKING (AS LONG AS IT’S SAFE)
Masking is the act of hiding one’s true emotions and mannerisms in order to feel more “normal” or to make others feel more comfortable around you. For example, many autistic people perform “Stims” or stimulating behaviors. This can include swaying from side to side, repeating phrases, playing with their hair, using fidget toys, etc. However, many are afraid to perform such acts in public where others might see it as “weird” or annoying to them. I work in retail, and societal norms expect me to smile and speak with every customer I encounter. However, this can be very exhausting for me, as someone who expresses my emotions differently. I am allowing myself to unmask in places I’m comfortable in, like at home, with friends or family, or my work place. This will decrease chances of burnout and help in preventing future depressive or anxious episodes.
Thanks to OatPop for letting share these tips, and for including delicious gluten free items on their menu for people like me!