Autistic trauma peer support

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In 2022 the Autistic Collaboration community is in the process of co-creating and operationalising peer support services for Autistic Trauma based on the lived experiences of Autistic people all over the world.

Our experience is that genuinely safe environments, where people can nurture trusted relationships, and learn to extend trust and appreciate trust that is extended to them, is essential to reducing Autistic anxiety to much lower levels. However, reducing chronic depression, based on the knowledge that we live in a sick society that is destroying this wonderful planet and that normalises extreme levels of social injustice, is much harder.

The encouraging feedback we are getting tells us that we are on the right track on a number of fronts, but there is much more good work that needs to be done.

Elevated rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide apply across the entire Autistic population. These co-morbid conditions are a reflection of experiences made in the social environment rather than a reflection of Autistic neurology. The exploitative nature of our “civilised” cultures is top of mind for many Autistic people. The box of constraints that W.E.I.R.D. monocultures impose on neurodivergent people is reflected in our mental health statistics.

Our approach is based on the principles of evolutionary design and will be articulated in the evolving language for co-creating ecologies of care. The knowledge that we are all trying to do our best and that we all care deeply about each other keeps us going. As needed we assist each other in slowing down to prevent burnout.

It is impossible to express everything that is going on inside us, because linear language is a poor tool, and also because the capacity of our own understanding is limited. We can’t know everything. We can only discover some things about ourselves, about each other, and the world. It’s a dynamic process that never ends. And it only works in a world of mutual trust. That’s why the world around us feels so broken, because people in a deceptive world understand nothing about themselves, and nothing about anyone else either.

Trauma is propagated between generations. We have to find ways of breaking the cycle without destroying those who are the most sensitive, who are the only ones capable of nurturing ecologies of care not based on power and manipulation. The question of the evil of coercive power has been with me since I was a child. Coercive power is the root of all evil. Those who are capable of resorting to coercive power on a regular basis are the ones destroying and killing the entire planet. There is infinite timeless wisdom in the social norm against the emergence of any social power gradients. When civilisations erase that norm, unimaginable suffering unfolds.

– Jorn Bettin

For Autistic and otherwise neurodivergent people, pain is more emotionally intense. We might even be called codependent due to our deep emotional attachments to the people we love. It takes years for us recover from misunderstandings, emotional disappointments, break ups, and losing loved ones. We have our people and we are very loyal to them even in the face of being betrayed. We are loyal to the people we love while we are betraying ourselves, again, again and again. And we have an infinite amount of empathy. Animals are sentient beings and we are not entitled to decide which one should live or not. I sometimes feel I can die due to an overdose of empathy.

– Ulku Mazlum

Modern families have been atomised to an extent where many Autistic people don’t have people within their biological families who genuinely understand them. The education and work environments in industrialised monocultures are so hypernormative and constraining that neurodivergent people are routinely traumatised. Hypersensitive Autists are simply the canaries in the coal mine, the first ones to be crushed unless they have access to a genuinely safe place in this world.

Autistic people all over the world suffer because we are put into impossible situations. And then we are pathologised. We are made out to be the problem. No. The system is the problem. And hypersensitive Autistic people can see this with full clarity. We know how impossible situations feel. We must find ways to write and talk about these impossible situations in a way that others can relate to, so that less sensitive people can start to feel at least some of the pain. Only then do we have a chance of not getting crushed by the society around us.

Together we’ll find ways to turn our experiences into tools that can help all Autistic people. We don’t yet know how, but we’ll discover it together.

Draft User Guide

➜ Download the User Guide.

Call for participation

We invite our Autistic peers (you) to contribute lived experience, as needed anonymously, so that we can co-create services around the diverse needs of Autistic communities.

You can can register interest and contribute to this Autistic peer support initiative via the form below:

UPDATE: We are delighted to see the level to which the concept of Autistic trauma peer support resonates with Autistic communities globally. We are receiving many accounts of lived experiences and offers of support, more than we could have imagined. Many thanks to all of you! This only reinforces our commitment to translate all your insights and painful experiences into genuine (non-commercial) peer support services that can help all Autistic people.

Please be assured that even if you do not receive an immediate reply, we are meticulously keeping track of all inquiries and offers of assistance. We are analysing and categorising all the many incoming reports, ideas, and questions, and will reply to all of you with suggested next steps based on the details you submitted.

Additionally, over the coming weeks and months, we will publish articles with specific service design ideas, to gather very specific feedback from all those who have expressed an interest in co-creating Autistic trauma peer support services.

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