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Eleanor Banks is a self-advocate who has been recently diagnosed with autism. In this post, Eleanor discusses aspects of self-care: what it is and how people with autism are affected by it.
Many people find it hard to look after themselves, or to have good self-care. Self-care involves management and monitoring yourself. Specifically, self-care encompasses one’s general well-being, taking prescribed medication, and eating a healthy diet. It also means that one should be able to recognize any symptoms that may need assessing, and to involve a professional if needed. Some self-care habits are difficult to follow every day, especially the minor habits like hygiene; hygiene can involve regular washing and bathing, living in a clean space, and wearing clean clothes every day.
Self-advocates can sometimes struggle with self-care because of depression and anxiety caused by autism, and/or how they were treated and raised. Self-care is also a spectrum, and can be impacted by unemployment, bullying, assault, separation of family, death of a loved one, etc. As a result of low self-care, a person could start to feel worthless. Because, in general, individuals on the spectrum might have stronger feelings, even the smallest of things can majorly affect that person, in ways neuro-typical people won’t understand.
In addition, many people with autism may feel that even though they don’t take the best care of themselves, there are more important subjects to worry about. Other self-advocates may not have the energy to look after themselves, as a possible result of depression, not enough free time, or difficulties with family and/or friends.
I have Asperger Syndrome, and I personally found it very hard to look after myself. But once my therapist made me aware of my lack of self-care, I decided to use my strengths to work through this problem. For example, I have a great imagination and I frequently draw, so I made a list with drawings of what I needed to do each day to look after myself. Whenever I completed an item, such as brushing my teeth and showering, I could mark it off as complete. This list helped me keep track of self-care items I already completed, and what I still needed to complete by the end of the day. For me, being clean physically can help me feel clean mentally.
To conclude, self-care for those with autism should be brought more to light, so that people who do struggle with self-care can benefit and help themselves. This is important. Getting help either from your GP or a therapist can help you feel more comfortable and happy with yourself.
About the Author
Eleanor Banks is 18 years-old, and was recently diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome this past year. Ella realized she could positively benefit the autism community, and has been educating herself about autism and focusing on helping people on the spectrum become happier and more comfortable in their skin. Ella supports others on the spectrum through personal anecdotes about her struggles with autism, her daily life, and coping strategies that work for her. She wanted to write for OAR to show other individuals with autism that they don’t have to pretend to be someone they’re not – she wants everyone to embrace their autism.