Saturday, October 25, 2014

Autism Answer: Trigger Control

I read a fantastic blog post by Caitlin Kelly. In Everything's a Trigger on her Broadside Blog, she mentions "re-branding" our triggers. More specifically, she shares a romantic story of being proposed to by her current husband at a place and time to specifically re-brand her trigger. It's sweet, and it worked!

She encouraged us, her fans and followers, to share our own experiences with triggers and I excitedly shared one of my own successful trigger "re-brands". My comment:

"The movie Little Shop of Horrors with Rick Moranis was a trigger for me. When I was twelve my step-dad had been molesting me. That was hard. However, the soul shattering fear I felt in the exact moment that I told my mom, said the words out loud, was harder. And that movie (a family favorite, at the time) was playing in the adjoining room when I told. The moments following the telling were challenging, and putting the pieces back together proved to be a lot of worthwhile work, but nothing compares to the feeling in the moment I admitted that what was happening was real, and was everyone’s problem. 
But I’ve re-branded the movie by renting it, watching it often, and singing the songs with my sons. The re-branding worked beautifully because being with my boys always makes me feel strong and put together, and watching them point out different favorite parts than the ones my sister and I had adored, encouraged me to see the movie with entirely new eyes!
You have a lovely husband, Caitlin. How wonderful of him to help you re-brand a trigger so romantically!! Hugs!!!" ~~~
Yes, even when I'm hanging out on the web with other friends I use too many exclamation points. They're such fun!!!

Anyway, it got me reflecting. 

In the world of autism we are surrounded and abused by triggers! Sensory issues, communication challenges and so much more make many of us almost like a walking/running/rolling upcoming disaster. The most common and expected things out in the world beyond our personally renovated and decorated homes can trigger us, or our loved ones, to meltdown or retreat or have anxiety attacks.

But we've also learned that we are responsible for controlling our own triggers. When my brother couldn't hold back from huffing and hitting at the site of knees and elbows, my mom didn't campaign for the world to stop having knees and elbows, or for them to always wear long sleeves and thick pants and NEVER bend in my brother's direction. Instead she was understanding and kind to my brother, while finding a way to help him take control and re-brand that trigger. It took years, but it was worth it.

I can't expect the world to know not to play a song or quote a line from Little Shop of Horrors when I'm around (in fact, today at our town's Parkfest I clapped my hands and cheered as a group of itty-bitty girls performed a dance to the opening number from that movie!) but I could ask my family and friends to understand when hearing it made me go pale and my lips become numb. I could explain and expect understanding when my voice grew small and my world became out of focus.

And I could take control of my trigger by finding a new way and new reason to watch the movie. And I did! And now I love it!!

Yet, in truth, I still fight the initial tummy tumble and shrinking of myself, but it's so short and almost unnoticeable that I can't honestly call it a trigger anymore. It's just something of a memory that I will likely always have. That's okay!

So go ahead and control your triggers! Show and teach your children that they can too! Don't expect it to be quick, and don't ever belittle the very real reaction they are having to the trigger, but encourage and believe they can re-brand!!

Happy Saturday friends!
And now, "It's super tiiii-iiime. Come on, come on..... " 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!!