πŸ’­ Ethereal Epiphanies

Short-form lightly edited, lightly structured essays, written in 30 minutes.
Published on:
April 5, 2024

🧠 From Sensory Struggles to Self-Discovery: My Path Through Autism and ARFID

From my earliest memories, even from the age of 5, meal times have always been a struggle for me. While everyone else looked forward to their favorite dishes, I approached the table with a sense of dread, knowing the battle that awaited me. For me, certain foods weren't just unappetizing; they were foes. The textures of mashed potatoes, beans, and other soft foods triggered a visceral reaction in me, a physical repulsion of vomiting. Eating them felt like an impossible challenge as if these foods had been pre-chewed.‍

‍


"The struggle I faced with eating physically challenging foods was amplified by cultural expectations. For many African American and immigrant households, not finishing your plate can be perceived as disrespectful or wasteful, and simply being abrasive or troublesome. Whatever you are given is exactly what you must eat, and you don't have a choice if you "don't like something". For a person with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), this situation is difficult because it is hard for adults or people in general to understand that it's not a simple "I don't like this"; it's that this particular food triggers something in my brain, and the moment it touches my tongue, I have a physical repulsion. This caused many meal times to turn into hours-long stalemates at the table, further isolating me in my discomfort and lack of understanding."

‍


As I've grown, my understanding of these experiences has deepened, especially through the lens of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). This reflection has brought clarity and a bittersweet sense of relief. Recognizing these moments as signs of something beyond mere willfulness has been liberating. It has provided perspective on the cultural and personal layers of my food aversions, highlighting the complex interplay between cultural norms and individual health challenges.

‍


My journey through understanding ASD and ARFID has also uncovered a silver lining: the ability to empathize with and support others facing similar misunderstandings. A poignant example of this was when a coworker confided in me about her son's struggles with food, which mirrored my own childhood experiences. Opening up about my ASD and ARFID helped her see her son's behavior in a new light, eventually leading to his diagnosis.

‍


Sharing my story, and witnessing its impact on others, has reinforced my belief in the power of personal narratives. Our challenges, shared openly, have the potential to resonate, connect, and support others in their journeys. It's a reminder of the importance of understanding ourselves not just for personal growth but for the impact we can have on those around us.
‍

‍

Leave a Comment

NayaOS

Join My Newsletter

πŸ’‘ Discover insights on life, work, personal growth, and more from Naya Moss, delivered bi-weekly.

Upcoming Writing Ideas