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Take A Moment of Tranqulity


Autism/ADHD and Tranquility don't often go together in my experience. Neurodivergence can be stressful for the person and those who love and care about them. We may feel stressed out for so many different reasons. But feeling stressed out all the time is not good for anyone. More than this is that stress messes with out nervous system, keeping us in fight/flight. When it gets worse it can lead us into shutdown or meltdown.


Some consequnces of stress include long-term ongoing stress can increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack, or stroke. Repeated acute stress and persistent chronic stress may also contribute to inflammation in the circulatory system, particularly in the coronary arteries, and this is one pathway that is thought to tie stress to heart attack. Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.


Fight/Flight

When we're in fight/flight we're going to feel like shouting at everyone and fighting and creating conflict or making exisitng conflict worse. It might be your partner, your kids or your coworker. If take the flight option, we just want to get out of there. Somepeople drive off in a rage in their car, others go to bed and pull the covers over their head, but whatever we do, we're trying to escape.


Meltdown/Shutdown

A meltdown can be quite noisy, maybe throwing things, hitting things including yourself, screaming. Shutwon is usually quiet. It can be curling up in a ball, becoming mute, perhaps not hearing, feeling 'collapsed'. All may end with a sense of exhaustion.


We know that mothers of children with autism are the most stressed mothers on the planet. That's not just my opinion. It has been shown repeatedly that mothers of autistic children have higher stress levels than parents of all typical kids and higher stress levels than any other disability category of any kind. So what can we do. The stress is not going away any time soon.


Coping with ongling stress is essential. It's not the whole answer ofcourse because it's very simplistic. But from a nervous system point of view, we need to help our enrvous system come down a few notches to avoid regrettable things happening. Our brains don't work very well when we're in distress and our enrvous system is jangled. But we need to find some moments, where we stop, take a breath and exhale slowly to try to do something manageable towards resetting our nervous systems.


This is called polyvagal theory. The reson I'm a fan is because there is no blame or moral judgements. Just an explaination about why I've done regrettable things and will do more in the future I'm sure. It's not that anyone is a 'bad person' or someone with 'poor self dicipline' or a parent hasn't 'trained' their child how to behave. Nervous systems get jangeld by stress which may include scratchy clothes, bright lights, loud noises or too many people. Maybe your food touched! It's OK. It's upsetting and it sets off our nervous system. Maybe you're saying the same thing for billionth time and you're having a hard time holding your frustration in. That's OK. You're not a bad person of poor moral character. Your enrvous system was reaching it's limit and it's time to walk away and take a break if you can. If not try to take a breath or two.


Finally, if you do something regrettable when your nervous system is jangeled, it's OK. You can do a repair to a relationship or fix what you broke. But also importantly, is that you need to forgive yourself for not being perfect, for being human, and having a very sensitive nervous system that is often on the razor's edge of holding it in and totally losing it. We end up outside our window of tolerance.


This is a good overview of what I'm talking about. I hope it will bring you comfort and understanding. There are many youtube videos that can explain this and the window of tolerance


Stephen Porges (Credited with the discovery) 4 mins


Seth Porges (Stephen's son) 28 mins


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