Autistic replay in the brain

Autistic replay in the brain

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IMG_6661Have you ever watched an autistic individual joyously laugh or begin to sob broken heartedly for no reason apparent to yourself?
It’s very likely they are replaying a memory of an event that has passed, possibly as recent as that day or even months or years ago. We can feel the exact same intensity that we felt at that moment, see the same sights, smell the same smells and hear the same sounds.
Depending on if it’s a pleasant memory we may sit there smiling, giggling or laughing uproariously to the amazement of anyone nearby. Similarly our distress is absolute if it’s a depressing memory, tears will run and the devastating sadness experiences at that time will be identical.
Can we stop replays? No.
Can we control them? No.
They can be triggered by a sight, a smell similar to one we would have smelt at that time, a sound like an alarm or a song can all provoke a truly realistic memory reel to begin playing at its own will.
For instance I was unfortunate enough to be scrolling through Facebook one day and saw a video of a baby being assaulted. It’s replayed in my head for three days.
I looked it up and found the child minder involved had been arrested that day and was now in prison, the baby had recovered yet it gave me scant relief. I could feel the devastation that I imagined the baby could feel, and the actions wound like a non stop preview whether my eyes were closed or open. I couldn’t eat for two of those days. I couldn’t sleep for all of them. That was jus one example, similarly a happy memory of a little baby chimp statue in a shop window that made me giggle can still make me happy till this day, the giggles erupt and the bubble of joy I felt is mimicked to perfection.
If your child or adult autistic is seeming to have a replay leave them alone.
If they seek comfort give it but otherwise leave them to go through the literal visual, auditory and sound reel they are witnessing. We need to replay it though it’s involuntary,  to get it out .
If possible try to think of a recent meal you have eaten that you do not have regularly, a song you haven’t heard for a while on the radio, an advert or even a phrase could start a replay.
If your child or adult autistic seems very upset by what they are replaying and you can narrow it down to something they have seen on the TV or their tablet/ computer get a cloth and wipe it down firmly in front of them. Clean the keyboard and even surrounding desk as this will visually cleanse the area. Wipe the viewing history. Snap the DVD in half if it’s that and it helps, I have had to rip a video to pieces after seeing something distressing on it and I then binned it. That didn’t work as the bin was still in the house, once I’d emptied it I felt better.
If your child/adult has memories of bullying, something that upsets them ask them to write or draw it then bury it or tie it to a balloon and let it go. You may have to do this several times if it’s a particularly distressing memory. Alternatively if they are laughing and giggling in glee join in!
We need more of that in the world and a joyful memory shared is something to be cherished.

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