Noelle Smith: My Journey Through Autism and The Yogic Path
By Noelle Smith | Published on July 30, 2020 | 3 Minute Read
Tell me a little bit about yourself! What do you think makes you special?
Hello, I am Noelle Smith and I am diagnosed with Autism, or also known as Asperger’s Syndrome.
I’m a young woman who openly tells my story of trauma, changing the world to show that autism is a gift, and expressing/teaching self love through the art of yoga.
It all started after being clinically diagnosed at a young age. Through therapy training I literally was diagnosed as low intelligence: aka someone who would not graduate and flourish… and so the beginning of my school life resulted in what I called a ‘battlefield’.
I started grade school at a time when ‘retarded’ was a sane term to call someone with disabilities, additionally to my town: in the school district, it was essential for a teacher to let others know that someone with disabilities was within the classroom.
This way of the system made me experience some of the most negative ways in which people placed me at the bottom of the social scale.
I basically experienced a life where autism meant no voice, no challenge, and no future. I was bullied physically and verbally… some teachers even placing me in trouble… and automatically being placed in the lowest forms of studies.
Basically, to support someone with autism in school meant not surpassing comfort zones, no challenge to reach high forms of careers, and no option to doing higher level of studies.
Although this form was meant well, I always found that in the back of my mind, in what I now call my inner voice, was speaking the opposite.
I wanted to go past my comfort zones, I wanted to flourish, and I wanted to study my butt off to surpass grades!
Through hours of studying, hours of completing assignments, and doing activities not deemed ‘safe’ for someone on the spectrum, I eventually graduated with top grades and scholarships (I grabbed my own diploma with such enthusiasm!).
I succeeded. In going against society's rules and proving through results that someone, even with a label, can be a part of society.
And through all this experiencing and going beyond, I discovered yoga.
Yoga in itself was an activity/lifestyle not suitable and uncomfortable for someone with autism. It basically was the total opposite to society norms in regards to people with disabilities.
For anyone not familiar with yoga: it basically goes beyond the simple classes/poses. You always live out of your comfort zone, you meditate and forgive your traumas, and especially you allow yourself to show your true self in the forms of clothing, actions, and living.
This itself was unbearably hard, especially in the beginning. I had to face my fears, anxieties and problems head on, as well as experience true vulnerability through my poses.
Although this brought me further into panic attacks, I followed through and experienced true enlightenment for my first time.
In this personal experience of enlightenment I heard and felt the calling of my purpose: helping others reach this bliss as well, especially with those on the spectrum.
We all deserve the true state of being, and in order to live a life filled with love we need to accept all. We need to allow future generations of all spectrums to live a life where they can go beyond their comfort zones, fulfill their passions and careers, and furthermore accept all as they are.
I hope through my personal experiences and my words, this goal will be reached among the world.
2. If there was one thing that you would tell people who don’t know anything about autism, what would you tell them?
For those not familiar with Autism, I will define the definition through my own words: Autism is a label word to define a broad range of conditions in which are deemed challenges in social skills, behaviors, and communication. Yet it comes off as different to the norm, I believe it’s just our unique self in the world and we all are on the spectrum in some way. It is a gift, not a dis- ability.
3. On your instagram profile, you say you are a yoga/meditation teacher. What impact have these activities had on your life?
Yoga was one of the many activities that my teachers told me it was deemed ‘unsafe’ or ‘too uncomfortable’ to do, and of course I did it despite the prying eyes and judging looks to my different poses.
In the beginning I hated it, it was hard and difficult, yet I somehow wanted to conquer this side of something and through dedication I experienced enlightenment. From what I can describe about it, it was a state where everything didn’t matter… just love for myself.
After that moment of time I fell in love with yoga and the lifestyle it was, but doing it in my own unique way. In terms of proven results: I believe that through my dedication of yoga and meditation it has decreased my anxiety and over sensitive feelings significantly, made me learn boundaries, and also to love my body.
4. Is there anything else that you do in your free time that you enjoy doing?
I enjoy many hobbies and trying new things. I enjoy reading all kinds of genre books, being creative in drawing and painting, gardening, zumba/dancing, and photo editing.
5. How important is it for you to spread awareness and find Common Ground within the special needs Community?
My purpose in life is to spread awareness about Autism/ASD to the people, through media and my yoga classes. I believe the world needs to hear and see the way we need to live a life of love and acceptance, especially to the special needs area.
6. What advice would you give to empower younger children who have autism?
My advice to all children and teens that are on the spectrum is always accept yourself and try to go past your comfort zone. You may have already experienced the times when society disapproves of a certain part/habit about you, or been placed to live a life based on your label, but know that you don’t need to follow that path. You are a perfect human being and soul that should follow your passions, and in starting a fulfilling life you should accept all the ‘odd’ or ‘different’ things that make you, you. However, know that pursuing your goals does bring you in a very vulnerable state, and you will have moments of fear… but hey that’s life!
7. Who are the people in your life who have helped you become the person you are today?
The people who I want to give my personal thanks for helping me succeed are my parents. Throughout my whole childhood they have always supported my decisions and efforts, encouraged new paths, and gave a voice when I got hurt and blamed for something. I honestly wouldn’t have succeeded this far without their help, and I am truly grateful.
Another is the very few teachers from my past who helped and encouraged me to follow through harder assignments and praised my hard work. Growing up in school I rarely felt accepted and been judged by my unique ways to learn, but the teachers who stood by me and accepted how I processed things really made going to school easier.
Lastly, I want to thank all my past bullies for pushing me. Yes you hurt me physically and verbally, but through all that I realized that without the hurt I wouldn’t have had the inner fire to push forward. In the end I proved your words wrong, so thanks!
8. What is one common myth about autism that you think is not true?
The one thing I personally don’t believe to be autism is it being a disability.
I understand the world needs to work with labels, but the very word: DIS- ability just isn't true. Disability to me just has me see ‘lacking’ or ‘can't do’, whereas with autism it’s not something ‘we can't do’ but ‘we do unique and new ways’.
9. What are the best resources that have helped you along the way?
My number one resource that has helped me go on is self reflection: journal, painting, etc. I believe that with all our unique and different ways we all have one thing that calms us or makes us reflect. So in discovering what that is and making a devotion to it is the best resource you can have. If you don’t know, I encourage you to try all avenues until finding one that speaks to you.
10. Where can our readers connect with you online?
You can connect with me through Instagram, where I post once in a while thoughts and tips and make short yoga/meditation videos. Also don’t hesitate to message me through there if anyone needs support or helpful tips. Also, on my page you can press the link to see my Facebook page.
About the Author
Noelle Smith is a Yoga and Meditation Instructor, as well as a peer support to children and teens with autism. Being diagnosed at a young age, Noelle experienced a life of limits. Through years of bullying and sheltered living, the trauma she experienced had only grown the inner voice that spoke from her heart. In this voice, Noelle began a life going beyond her comfort zone, and through hardwork and dedication she eventually surpassed all the expectations. It's through this mindset and devotion to yoga/meditation that brought Noelle Smith to see true confidence and self love. Its the purpose: to help others hear their inner voice, diminish the negative side of labels, and to experience a unlimiting life.