• Understanding Autism from the Inside

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Autism and our Environment; The Importance of “feeling” Happy

A few weeks ago I wrote a series of articles for answers.com about the Psychology of Color and Autism, which sparked my interest. For those of you who do not know what comes next�a sparked interest means RESEARCH! Yay, one of my favorite things in the world to do, but of course, it consumes my every waking hour and thoughts.

Earlier this year I set out to change the look of my house (environment) because I feel cramped, uncomfortable, angry, and constantly frustrated. My environment affects me profoundly, which is why I started to change all the colors of my rooms. Coordination is very important with colours, especially for people like me with sensory issues, but it can be difficult to find things that you love but also that match. For example, if you have a rug that doesn’t match your walls. It can be frustrating to be around. It is probably worth just getting a new one that fits in with the rest of your furniture, so it is easier on the eyes and preserves your calm.

While writing the color articles I stumbled upon the Chinese art and science of Feng Shui, and since have read six Feng Shui books. It is very interesting both in theory and application. The best definition I found (coincidentally, the one that peaked my interest in the subject) was that Feng Shui is the study of how the environment affects the people living within it. Ears perked up!

I am not a believer in luck. I believe that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Therefore, we can all make our own luck. So many of the folklore that I read about I have dismissed. What does stick with me about this study of the environment is that what we see, hear, smell, in our homes/offices etc. affects how we feel. This is true for all of us with or without autism, but I think for those of us on the spectrum, especially those of us on the super-sensitive side, the affects are dramatically increased.

A pleasant smell is calming, a beautiful sparkly crystal shining rainbows on my wall (I hung one in my window this weekend) creates feelings of instant happiness. Conversely, when I look around at piles of clutter and mess that I have no place for, I am instantly frustrated and upset. The environment can literally wreak havoc on my emotions. I can go from those ecstatic feelings of happiness, to instant despair by just walking from the bedroom to the laundry room! It can make me feel like a crazy person.

Feeling happy is calming; Feeling Unhappy can cause a meltdown!

Because of my permanent thinking, I always feel like my current emotional state is a forever state, which can be disorienting when it changes so quickly. When I am feeling happy, I can be productive and hopeful. So my goal is to increase these happy feelings while trying to decrease all the others. Sounds simple doesn�t it?

All I need to do is ensure that the sun keeps shining everyday (clouds make me feel depressed) and sit by my window watching sun catchers make rainbows dance around the room. Easy peasy, as long as I can control the universe, and never turn around and look at the pile of laundry that is waiting to be done!


Have you noticed how your environment affects you?


READ: Sunshine and the Aspie: When the Weather Affects Our Neurology

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.


    • Thanks Erica! How are you? The kids?

      • eh. ok. just ok. 🙂 things are good i suppose. busy busy. i hate winter. you dont have winter down there. its the wonderful season of “still winter”. we still have like 3 feet of snow. bah. will it melt ? maybe by june. hahhaha

        • Should I not mention that I spent the day yesterday planting flowers??? I feel for you, I really do! I do not like the winter, and those dark, grey, cold dreary days make me deeply depressed!

          Although, I miss my family up in NY, I do not miss that weather at all!!!

          • Yeah I’ll bet even New York is better off then us. New snowstorm in the forecast for Monday. It never ends. We’re supposed to got other doctor Monday. An hour drive one way. It better come Monday night or be completely done by Monday afternoon…

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