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Autism and Trust
Autism and Trust
While it can be tough for anyone to always know who to trust, this can be particularly problematic for autistic folks as well as folks with ADHD, PTSD and generalized anxiety.
The basic problem is that to detect untrustworthy or dangerous people, you first need to be relaxed, yourself. This may seem like a contradiction but consider this, if you are already feeling fear, stress or anxiety when everything is essentially ok, how can you possibly tell when things (people) become unsafe?
Think of is way. Imagine that we all have a natural alarm system in our head—like a fire alarm. This alarm is supposed to go off ONLY when there is danger—a threat to our survival. But for many autistic, ADHD and other folks, this ‘fire’ alarm is going off ALL THE TIME. It’s as if we’re feeling threatened or in danger ALL THE TIME.
This constant state of high alert can make it almost impossible to detect actual danger. What’s to detect? We’re already on high alert.
What makes things even worse, is that in this high alert state, when our fight-or-flight systems are activated, our thinking changes. Executive functioning is decreased, good judgment may be impaired, we may dissociate and loose our empathy and rapport.
So, here we are, on high alert, dissociated from our own feelings and the feelings of those around us, a fire alarm ringing in our heads, how on earth are we supposed to know who to trust?
The reality is, we probably can’t. In the high alert state, it’s almost impossible to go beyond the simple and superficial mechanics in relating to others. There’s simply too much noise in our own heads.
So, what’s the solution?
The solution is, RELAX. Oh, sure, there are a variety of techniques to improve our empathy and rapport. There are techniques for reading/interpreting verbal as well as non-verbal cues.
But the truth is, the reality is, that NONE of these techniques are going to be effective unless we quiet the noise inside our heads.
When we quiet that noise, the entire world opens up to us and our natural ability to empathize, achieve rapport, and to discern who has our best interests and heart and who doesn’t, increases dramatically.
It’s almost like flipping a switch—a neurological switch. When the switch is ON, we’re on high alert—nervous, anxious, afraid, depressed, angry—highly reactive and dissociated. When the switch is OFF, we are relaxed, focused, emotionally available, more empathetic, responsive.
The goal, therefore, is to reduce our stress and anxiety so we can spend more time in this relaxed and focused state.
Fortunately, for the last 15 years, folks at the Neuro-linguistic Learning Center have been developing exercises and techniques available to help autistic, ADHD and other folks throw that neurological switch to reduce stress and turn off that fire alarm in our heads.
Here is the link to two very, simple exercises: Reduce Stress.
Additional stress reduction techniques are described in our book, Waves—Not Spoons, along with dozens of techniques, strategies and stims for stress reduction, sensory integration, organization, self-motivation, improving relationships, and becoming a more fully self-expressed human being.
While everyone has their own criteria for happiness, being able to fully express one’s self and participate in meaningful relationships, must surely rank high on the list.
At this time, I am not seeing clients in person, but I am happy to help others achieve their goals via telephone and online. Feel free to contact me directly or via our web site. Click here for more info.