Holidays, Retreat and Autism

I’ve been really lucky this year with holidays.  Our main holiday was a week away with the church in Devon (more of that on subsequent posts as I had a chance to draw and paint while I was there).  We got back on Saturday.  It was brilliant to be away with the church family.  We are such a diverse group of people and yet we are all bound together by a common faith and a lot of love.  What’s more there were a number of other teenagers there so my fabulous son had more interesting company than me available to spend time with, or whatever it is that teenagers do these days – chillax?  🙂

Now we’re home though my son is spending some time with his Dad and I was planning to  get a place at a retreat house deep in the Essex countryside. Pleshey Retreat House

It’s a wonderful place.  Unfortunately I need to take care of some things here at home so I’m going to have to postpone it.  It’s still good to know that it’s there when I can get the time.

One of the big advantages of having an ASD diagnosis (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is that I can take account of my autism and organise things for myself, like a retreat to Pleshey, which help me to deal with it.  The two main issues I have are:

  1. Issues with sensitivities – particualrly noise sensitivity and touch sensitivity although strong light also bothers me.  (In fact for me noise and touch feel like the same thing – that’s why I hate certain noises because they feel like a kind of touch to me and it feels like my personal boundaries are broken.)
  2. Issues with communication with people (I don’t have difficulties with animals – in fact I love being with animals and find them very relaxing.)  I think there are a few main things I find difficult:
  • I don’t understand fast or easily what people are communicating to me because I can’t automatically or naturally ‘get it’.  I have to work at it, processing it more like a computer than a person and it’s difficult.  I used to be much better at this and could go un-noticed except for occasional bad slip-ups.  But since I developed a chronic pain condition it’s become more difficult because some of my brain power is taken up with the pain and there’s not enough left to logically parse communications at the same speed as everyone else anymore.
  • I am completely literal (which causes no end of problems and misunderstandings because, as well as understanding what is told to me literally and to the letter,I also communicate what I want to say literally which often means I have to qualify everything and explain everything in detail which people have told me is irritating and makes me look a bit odd.
  • I can’t tell what people are feeling unless is blindingly obvious, e.g. if someone is crying a lot and saying they are so sad then I know they are sad.  I look for signs to help me guess but there is always the danger of getting it wrong and causing a problem so I sometimes just ask people.
  • I find it hard to make and keep friends or to sort ordinary things out with neighbours.
  • I don’t naturally know the social rules like other people seem to and have to work hard to make sure I don’t break them.

(I also have special interests, anxiety and I feel really uncomfortable if there’s no routine or if I change a routine.)

Hmmm, so, knowing all of this, going to a retreat house where I can quite appropriately choose to be in silence if I want, (although when there are only a few people there I don’t feel the need for that) and where it is very quiet, is the perfect antidote to living in a loud and communication-heavy world for an autistic person.  On top of that because it’s a Christian retreat house it’s like going to stay with extended family and I feel close to what is really important to me.  I will have to try to fit it in later in the year.  There are always memories of our fab holiday on Dartmoor.  It was so beautiful, rugged and wild there – I loved it.

Here are some photo’s.

These first few were taken from the minibus:

The M5 on the way through the West Country.
Arriving on the moor
Arriving on the moor
Dartmoor Ponies
Dartmoor Ponies
One of the many Tor's on the moor.
One of the many Tor’s on the moor.

And this was taken with my feet on the ground just the other side of the lane from the place we stayed:

View from where we stayed.
View from where we stayed.

Having had a lovely time to wind-down and ‘chillax’ I’m now more than ready to go with my artistic adventures!

Up next are a couple of line and wash pictures.  These were done before I left.  The first is a picture with waves in it, done as patterns rather than like real waves. The second is a hummingbird.  I spent some time in Illinois and Wisconsin many years ago and was fascinated at the time by the hummingbirds which were fed by many local people.  They were so tiny and flew so differently to other birds.

9 thoughts on “Holidays, Retreat and Autism

  1. great post! loved the photos, Dartmoor & the ponies – wow, gorgeous. I had to reread the post a couple of times actually as a few things you’d said really jumped out at me. Being so literal, & ‘explaining’ thus irritating others! and being in such a Noisy World, craving nature’s quietness, etc. It made me think how these have always applied to me. Also to appreciate more – so thank you for this great post, cheers, Debi

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I get that feeling too, about being moody…and weather can do that anywhere too, has a mood, creates a mood…well at least you can keep visiting the national park…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was really blown away by Dartmoor – the weather there changes really quickly. Some people say the moor is ‘moody’ like a person. I get what they mean. I thought it was breathtaking. I would love to live down there on or near the moor. (I think it’s a national park so you can’t just live anywhere.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lovely, lovely country side, beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing, it is interesting to get to know this and gain better understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The ponies one is my favourite too – there’s a kind of peace to it along with the dark moodiness of the moor. I’m amazed my phone was able to take the shot, especially through the minibus window.

    Thanks for your comments about the autism too – it’s very validating to be heard. I like to be alone too – or with one other person perhaps.
    Thanks again!


  6. Photos are beautiful! Great time of year to capture the green countryside…love the animals on the hill grazing. Thanks so much for sharing a part of your journey with autism. This really helps in understanding the condition. I can so relate to the noise factor and spacial integrity remaining intact! Why I live alone with my cat! The idea of a retreat seems wonderful. I hope you are able to get away this year.

    Liked by 1 person

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