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How writing helps

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AUTISM

Autistic peoples brains can hold so much information, this can be beneficial but it can also be overwhelming.

 

Writing can be used as a path through the maze, traffic, forest, fire, fog, haze, pollution, sensory overload, meltdown, or whatever it feels like.

 

From a shared point we get to chart new territories, and find safe spaces and adventures together.  

I'm not saying it's easy. Many autistic young people I have worked with write the most amazing poetry, journals and stories but it is often very hard to decipher because the symbolism can be unique and cryptic.  I love the adventure of trying to unravel cryptic symbolism. It delights my brain to see connections that I never would make.

 

I often think that it is this joy of discovery that can be healing for people.  One of my favourite comments by a  young person was:

"I never know if I have written a good poem until I see your face."

 

Taking part and sharing a journey is an honour and a privilege for a practitioner. For an autistic person who may feel isolated this is can be enormously rewarding. 

 

DEPRESSION

Depression, or as commonly named now, low mood, can be crippling. In my experience depression never arrives on its own.  

 

There is a story.

In a way, telling the story is not the way out though. How you relate to the story is the key. In fact mostly we tell the story too often and the story starts to gain in strength; gets thicker, longer and higher. A wall starts to get built. This wonderful poem by Anita Barrows brings us to face that.

If we can't change the story what can we do?

Well, there begins the work.

Young people live a a very present world, that is natural for them. Being present means you are not reliving the story. When times are too hard and people don't want to carry on, it really is enough to take a breath, take the time to live in the moment and try to regain a foothold on enjoying your existence.

 

PTSD and flashbacks can tear the past and place it firmly in the present again. Work with trauma therapists or EMDR can help people move past this. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy lists many therapists who specialise in this area. 

 

 

SELF-HARM

The statistics for self-harm are very distressing.  The reality of finding out that someone you love is self-harming is devastating. 

What then?

How can writing fit into dealing with self-harm?

There is definitely a danger of self-harm being glorified. I have had young people in my groups who start like this. There is the temptation to react too quickly, to try and shut it down. But I have found that this is not the best approach. 

We can't tell people how to feel, no matter how distressing their feelings are. 

Once we get behind the glorification and bravado of self-harm we can start to get to the reasons as to why it occurs. 

By not being shocked and scared away we become more trustworthy. 

I have worked with young people who have written their way out of self-harm. It is so rewarding to know that there is a way out. 




 

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