Since sharing my post on a day at the hairdressing salon, many people have asked why I bother if the trip causes me so much stress and burnout.
When I am in the salon, I am treated with such loving kindness.
I am offered and served herbal teas, magazines.
I am gifted a luxurious hairwash and head massage.
I enjoy the conversation with the people that work there as many of them have connections to the autism world and I’m able to speak freely about my passion.
Max, my stylist is the most incredibly kind, compassionate, generous, gentle and wonderful human being.
Our conversations are not shallow, they don’t involve small talk.
We giggle about small talk and poke fun at it.
We go deep. We discuss philosophy and healing modalities and what autism truly is in all it’s beauty.
He is French and understands when I need him to repeat himself a thousand times because my brain needs a few attempts at taking on new accents.
He understands that after a while sitting in the salon amongst the hair dryers, chatter, taps turning on and off, music and telephone ringing, my hearing begins to diminish as though I’m underwater.
He demonstrates understanding for my experience as an autistic person by sharing his own experiences (not being able to hear in busy restaurants, etc).
And I have been given the space, comfort, freedom and safety in our connection to share how challenging it is for me to get there to have my hair done and what the aftermath entails.
He appreciates how difficult this is for me and is blown away that his craft is so appreciated by me that I make that trip.
He understands what goes into it.
And when rush hour slows, he turns down the music, opens the double doors and a gentle breeze flows in along with the sound of the birds outside the door.
A haircut is but one of the many, many challenging experiences an autistic person faces in their daily life.
Life is a series of consistent events that cause burnout, stress, anxiety, misunderstandings, mistakes, and pain.
If there’s one thing I know..
It’s that CONNECTION is EVERYTHING.
See what I’m willing to put myself through based on a connection with a person who understands, accepts and engages with me with open mindedness and gentleness?
THIS IS WHAT OUR CHILDREN NEED.
THIS IS WHAT WILL GET THEM THROUGH.
With therapists, educators, parents, peers, family, every body.
We are far more willing to experience discomfort, to sit with our challenges, to push ourselves that extra bit when we know we’ll be met with love, and kindness.
When we feel safe.
When we feel understood.
As an autistic PDAer, the energy and presence another human being possesses is the FIRST thing I sense.
And I know within two seconds of being within their space whether I can connect or not.
The first thing we can do as adults working with or parenting autistic/PDA children is to drop our guards, let go of the need to control any outcomes and to just ‘be’.
This is why it’s important for adults to heal.
Heal our wounds, our traumas, our insecurities.
Because it’s our need to control others, particularly children
That comes from a space of projecting our own fears, insecurities and belief systems built on our own experiences, both good and bad.
Our children are not us.
They are separate from us and their own person.
And the fastest way to learn and to know how to support them is by tuning in to what brings them joy, and what ails them without judgement or labels such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ attached.
An offering of unguarded connection is everything.
For this is the meaning of true acceptance.
Image: Michael Gribbin