by The #ActuallyAutistic Coach
The Jewish holiday of Sukkot begins tonight and I couldn’t be more excited. Sukkot is the Jewish harvest festival in which we celebrate by being outside with friends and family, eating and hanging out in makeshift booths that we keep up for the next week or so, partaking in the new fruits and reconnecting to nature.
I have always loved Sukkot. While most people are unfamiliar with it and see it as a “minor” holiday compared to Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur which have just passed, Sukkot is actually one of the main and most important holidays in the Jewish tradition. It signifies rebirth, renewal, and prosperity while heading into the new year. 2000 years ago when the Jewish Temple stood in Jerusalem, Jews would make pilgrimage there and create this booths around the city, BBQ all day, and see friends and family that they may not have seen in sometime.
Specifically as an autistic person, I love Sukkot even more! The holiday has a special significance for autistic people, enabling us to reconnect to the earth for our sensory regulation. For me and other autistic people, sensory regulation is key to our wellbeing. When we are overstimulated or unders-stimualted our entire system shuts down, sending us into a tail spin. For as long as I can remember, however, being outside, in touch with nature, has always been a great sensory regulator. Not because of the natural light, mind you, as I must always wear sunglasses outside, but because of being physically connected to the air, the ground, the natural sounds. This is perfect during Sukkot, with us dwelling in booths that are covered to the sky, but only so much as to block out most of the light, allowing the air inside still. Taking my shoes off in the Sukkah to have my body planted into the earth is liberating and realigns me. Dining outside, enjoying, quite literally, the fruits of the earth with closest friends and family is also a great sensory regulator.
As we celebrate Sukkot this week I urge my fellow autistic Jewish people to head outside, even if you’re in New York, and head to a park, a forest, the beach, and seek out a Sukkah. Plant your feet into the earth, the sand, the grass. Breathe. Enjoy. We are alive and as we say in our prayers during Sukkot, This is the day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Chag Sameach ve Moadim le Simcha!
Article by The #ActuallyAutistic Coach. Originally published on theautisticcoach.com