E is for ENVIRONMENT.
Environment is defined as: “Environment (biophysical), the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism…Built environment, constructed surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging from the large-scale civic surroundings to the personal places…Social environment, the culture that an individual lives in, and the people and institutions with whom they interact.” –Wikipedia
So basically environment is everything outside your body, but it can affect what happens inside your body. At least that is what I get out of all the definitions I read. Kind of makes sense doesn’t it? I personally can think of several environmental factors that affect how I feel and act; such as temperature, sound, light, smell, other people, etc… A person with Autism and/or Sensory Processing Disorder often has a neurological system that cannot interpret all these things in a “typical” manner. For a person with special needs, what is nothing or perhaps annoying to us, can be debilitating to them. Something that may be overwhelming to us may be terrifying to them.
I have always wondered and speculated what the world must look and sound like to my beautiful girl. Here is a video that a very brave Autistic woman (username WeirdGirlCyndi) shared to give all us NT’s a better understanding about how environment affects her: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPDTEuotHe0&feature=player_embedded. I cried through this video and had to watch it a few times to actually read some of the words I could not see through my tears. Here is another video (by username weaveintothewin2), which I also though was quite insightful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plPNhooUUuc&feature=youtu.be
I know that every person is different, whether they are on the spectrum or not, but just knowing that this could be happening to her, has made us reevaluate many areas of our life. We are now trying to take a more sensory-friendly approach to everything, to help her be more comfortable and calm. We cannot control situations, people, places or things. We cannot create the “perfect” environment for our children, because we honestly don’t know what that is. However, we can pay attention and follow their cues to figure out what they enjoy or fear, and what makes them happy or sad. Our children communicate with us every moment, we just have to get better and “hearing” them. Although we cannot control everything, we can make a choice as to how much our children are exposed. Our lives may need to change, but in the end it is worth it because we will have happier, healthier children.
Environment “Our Way” is defined as: “Anything outside our own bodies that can affect us in a negative or positive manner. It cannot be controlled, but may be modified, or even limited, to be more sensory-friendly.”
Autism Proud – Journey With Us – by Jest Tu Positive by Dorothy Stronglove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.