Cover Image - H.A.L.T. For Self Care | Spectrumly Speaking Ep. 92

H.A.L.T. for Self Care | Spectrumly Speaking ep. 97


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(AUDIO – 23 minutes) In this episode, hosts Haley Moss and Dr. Lori Butts discuss tools for self care, including the H.A.L.T. tool.


Spectrumly Speaking is the podcast dedicated to women on the autism spectrum, produced by Different Brains®. Every other week, join our hosts Haley Moss (an autism self-advocate, attorney, artist, and author) and Dr. Lori Butts (a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist, and licensed attorney) as they discuss topics and news stories, share personal stories, and interview some of the most fascinating voices from the autism community.

For more about Haley, check out her website: And look for her on Twitter: For more about Dr. Butts, check out her website:

Have a question or story for us? E-mail us at





HALEY MOSS (HM): Hello, and welcome to Spectrumly Speaking. I’m Haley Moss, an attorney, author, artist, and autistic self-advocate. And I am joined here by:


DR LORI BUTTS (LB): Hi, I’m Dr. Lori Butts, I’m a psychologist and an attorney.


HM: So how are you? Like, for real, like, how are you feeling?


LB: Good, I’ve been working out a lot so it just goes into what we’re talking about today. So it’s good to workout, it’s feels good.


HM: I need to get back into it.


LB: Yeah, the problem is it’s just so hot outside.


HM: I know, I love going biking and I can’t go because it’s too hot. And I’m like, “I don’t want to go outside in this. And so I know we talked in previous episodes that I bought a Nintendo Switch and I bought Ring Fit Adventure for it, which is like one of those workout video games. Just kind of really cool—


LB: Wait, what is it?


HM: It’s called Ring Fit Adventure. It’s one of those workout video games and they give this palates ring and your controllers plug into it and you have to do 20 squats and other stuff too.


LB: Oh, okay!


HM: It’s really cool, it’s just a lot harder than I thought it would be. I was borderline light-headed at the end of the last two I did, and then I’m like, “Maybe I should take a break.” And it’s been like a week and I haven’t touched it. Probably because I did it too early in the morning. I don’t know.


LB: How many minutes did you do it?


HM: I don’t even remember, I think I did a half hour but you go by the levels.


LB: Okay.


HM: There’s a story and things to it too, like you need to fight bad guys with your exercise moves. It’s pretty cool.


LB: Oh, that is pretty cool.       


LB: Oh, that’s very cool.


HM: It is wild. I really enjoy it but I probably should turn down the difficulty a little bit. I’m like, “No, I want to challenge myself.”


LB: Right.


HM: So, today it’s just the two of us, which means this is going to be a really fun therapy session. And we’re going to talk about self-care.


LB: And ways we can talk care of ourselves.


HM: Naps.


LB: Okay, that’s good.


HM: I feel like I’ve been pretty weird about taking care of myself. I’m trying to eat better. Because I feel like I’m fatigued a lot, so I’m trying to eat better, I’m trying to get on a normal sleep schedule again because I haven’t been. So my brain likes to do the thing where it turns on at bedtime, then I’m working from like 10pm til 2 am, and I shouldn’t be doing that because then I have to get up again at 8.


LB: Yeah, that’s not good.


HM: And then I feel very tired.


LB: Yeah, yeah, that’s not good. We have to stop that. You got to stop that.


HM: I know, and it’s hard to set boundaries and figure everything out too so.


LB: What kind of boundaries do you need to be setting?


HM: I think I need to set boundaries and things with emails, and things like that too. Because I realize if I don’t respond to things immediately, they never get responded to.


LB: Right.


HM: But also, try to respond to things at night, because then I don’t get a response back straight away and then I don’t get caught up in God-knows-what else before that.


LB: Yeah. I’m hearing that Haley needs some structure.


HM: Haley always needs structure. See here’s the thing. Haley is autistic. Haley loves structure and routine. Haley also can’t executive function, and can’t develop and stick to structure and routine.


LB: Oh, I don’t believe the can’t.


HM: Well it just is very difficult.


LB: Ok.


HM: So, I’m also writing and researching a book right now and I learn about ADHD a lot, and I probably have this too. And that’s where you have that competing school of thought, is probably that ADHD mentality is that autistic me wants that structure. And ADHD me can’t keep it. Or struggles to keep it.


LB: Are we going to be giving you another diagnosis too?


HM: No, but you kind of see that there’s kind of this interplay. I mean I think generally with autism and ADHD together, you don’t know where one begins and another ends or autism is just ADHD on steroids at times.


LB: Yeah!


HM: And I feel like there’s no delineation but there’s things that I read. And when I’m reading more about ADHD, and I just go, “Yep.” And I’m like, “Wait, that’s also true of my autism. Where does this play together?” But, okay. But I also see that interplay play with routine and structure. Like two very competing schools of thought.


LB: Right.


HM: Like I need some routine. I thrive on routine, I thrive on structure, but I also am really bad at developing it.


LB: So what kind of tricks can you put into your schedule to keep you on it?


HM: I just write everything down.


LB: Okay.


HM: I feel like that’s my best bet right now, just write everything down. Because otherwise things won’t get done. And thanks to writing a book now, I interview a lot of people. So I always am scheduling a lot of time to talk to people. And I was supposed to talk to someone this week, and she said, “Call me on Wednesday or Thursday,” but didn’t give me a distinct time. And Wednesday and Thursday ended up being really busy and I didn’t write her back, like, “Hey, I can’t do this.” And I didn’t calendar her in so I didn’t put a time and I didn’t end up calling her and I feel so guilty about it.


LB: Yeah, that’s the thing. If it doesn’t get on a schedule then–


HM: It doesn’t get done.


lb: Yeah. That’s why you need to put “exercise” on a schedule.


HM: That’s why I miss in the before times going to gyms and classes, because you had to physically show up and it was always on schedule.


LB: Right.


HM: I think we might need to get Makaela back to talk to us about exercise.


LB: Yes.


HM: Maybe she can help us develop a routine. I also like this resource, or at least this identifying emotion thing called HALT that we got, that when we were planning what to talk about in this episode. And it’s called “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired,” that you have to stop and identify these emotions. And sometimes I wonder, do I jst feel all four of those at once?


LB: It’s quite possible. When you’re hungry, it’s hard to–


HM: You could be angry or “hangry.” I think a lot of us are lonely with the pandemic, so our social lives aren’t what they used to be and seeing people that aren’t my parents does not really happen in months.


LB: Right.


HM: And I love my parents, and they’re absolutely wonderful, and I’m blessed that they brought me home and I’m not alone in my apartment. But you just miss seeing people.


LB: Yeah.


HM: And there are friends that I’m making more of a point to reach out to, or who are starting to make more of an effort to reach out to me. So I’ll try to be less lonely. And as far as tired, I think tired is a perpetual state of being for me. So I’ll try to figure that one out.


LB: Yeah.


HM: How do we get less tired?


LB: Well you need a regular sleep schedule. You can’t be getting in bed at 10 and staying up until 2am.


HM: I know. I want that to end. And I also probably need to not keep my phone near by.


LB: Yes, yes, the phone needs to be way out of reach. And you need to wake up at a specific time and get out of bed at a specific time so then the next day, you’re tired to go to sleep. Sleep hygiene and sleep schedule is really important. And that tends to fix a lot of things too. And eating on a schedule and not letting your blood sugar go crazy, that also tends to fix a lot of other things too.


HM: Absolutely, and I think it’s hard to know what’s going on internally too. Because a lot of us aren’t going to doctors and things like that too.


LB: Right.


HM: And I keep thinking, in the before times, I would have been like “Oh my God, I need to go to all these doctors before the end of the year,” because I haven’t been to doctors, because it’s the new year, and I think “When am I going to go out again?” Because back in January, I was like, “I’m going to go to all the doctors in March and April.” And that didn’t happen because you need a physical, you need an OB, you need all that regular check-up stuff. And I haven’t done any of it. And of course now, at this point in the pandemic, I’ve heard from other people who have gone to doctors that their bodies are acting differently because of the stress and the isolation and other things too. So I’m like, “Wow, it sounds like it’s really important to go to doctors but they’re also going to tell you that your bodies aren’t doing the same thing that it normally does.”


LB: Right.


HM: So kind of a strange thought. How do we kind of find our normal, whatever that is? Or at least take care of ourselves?


LB: Well at the very basic, I say this all the time, the structure and the routine is really, really important. A healthy structure and routine is super important to stick to.


HM: I think building it is actually the easy part, but how do we stick to it? Because I can calendar things all day long and then I’ll be like, “Nope!”


LB: And then what are the consequences when you do the nope?


HM: It depends. Sorry, that was a bad lawyer answer. Some people are cool and they let you reschedule things, and other things you do, you’re like “Wait, how many days just went by? What day of the week is it again?”


LB: Right.


HM: It’s “Blursday.” Because all the days blur together.


LB: Right, right. It’s just recommitment. It’s recognizing that you’re not going to be 100%, but you don’t have to throw everything out when you mess up or whatever, and just restart the next day and back on it. It’s just a recommitment to say, “I know that structure is important, I know I messed up yesterday or I messed up three days in a row, but I’m gonna get back on it.” Whatever it is. Then usually, if you stick with it for a couple of weeks, it becomes your normal and it becomes your routine. They always say 30 days to create a new habit or something like that. But usually after two weeks or so, and you’re in a good routine and you’re feeling good, it rewards itself, so you keep going in that direction. And nobody’s perfect, but that routine to where you’re getting sleep on time, your exercise on time, your eating on time, all the things to take care of yourself. And if you’ve got an external person who you’re accountable to, that also helps too to keep them on track. Like you with your parents or with me, or with anybody. “Yeah, I’ve done really well this week, I stuck to my commitments.” And then figure out what are the things that you tend to pass on and that you tend to fall off? Typically, it’s some task that you–


HM: I’m trying to sort through what’s important.


LB: Right.


HM: Like I try to make a list mentally, like what is important? What is urgent and important? And what is not?


LB: Right, right.


HM: So that’s something my uncle told me to do, is write down each day what you want that’s important, and then you cross things off and you have to do it again each day and you realize which stuff kind of hangs around.


LB: Exactly.


HM: And then eventually just want to get it out.


LB: Right.


HM: So I’m trying to work on that stuff. Especially because right now, I’m currently writing a book, which is great. And I’m really excited about it. But I also get so distracted because then I read something for research and then I go back to something that I started like four weeks ago because I think something is relevant. Like one of my friends just finished her Masters Thesis, and i asked her if I could read her thesis because she did all sorts of interesting work on autistic people in college and academia. And of course I’m reading her thesis, and she has three really great research studies that I want to read. And they define neurodiversity far better than I ever could. And I’m like, “Wait, I gotta’ plop that in somewhere else in this manuscript,” and all the sudden I’m back at square one on the manuscript and I was at square five. And because I’m so overly perfectionist, I’m like, “wait, your goal is to finish square five. Not to go back to square one.”


LB: Right.


HM: “And add in all this stuff that is super relevant and important because you saw it right now.”


LB: Right. Yeah, that’s tough. I get that completely. I’ve been there, done that. I get that.


HM: All the open tabs on my browser tell you everything you need to know. I have tabs that have been sitting there for about three weeks now.


LB: Oof, you’ve gotta’ clear those out. You gotta’ calendar–


HM: An organization space kind of thing.


LB: Exactly, exactly.


HM: I bookmarked all these things too. And I’m like, “Why do I keep these open?”


LB: Yeah, no. No. Have you ever read the book “Getting Things Done”?


HM: Nope!


LB: It’s a whole process of how you really filter emails and how you prioritize things. And the best concept that I got from the book was why do we have a 9-5 day when basically the task that you could get done in three hours if you were organized, and then you wouldn’t have to work 9-5. You can get it done in a shorter amount of time. But as much time as you alott for it, you tend to make it last that long when some tasks are much easier. And it’s just about what your uncle told you. What’s the priority? What’s the most important and most urgent? And what can be left to the abyss? And so that’s a real skill to be able to get through all that and do that. Especially when you’re involved in a task that is so unstructured like writing a book.


HM: The only thing that’s structured is I know what day it’s due.


LB: Right.


HM: And I know how much is expected in that manuscript.


LB: Right.


HM: But I’m also trying to schedule time because there are lots of things that I’m writing about that are beyond my knowledge base. And I’m also scheduling interviewing people for instance, and I have to work around their schedules. Then it messes up, “when am I going to write up what they’re saying?” I have to talk to someone, I have to take a lot of notes because i don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable by recording it even if they give me permission. And then they’re scared everything is on record, so I try to write down if they make a certain quote, or I’ll ask them to repeat it and then I’ll send it back if I end up using it. Just to make sure I’m correct.


LB: Right.


HM: Because I feel like adding it and the extra tasks of transcribing an interview would just make sure nothing gets done.


LB: Right!


HM: Especially because the thing is talking to neurodiverse lawyers, especially people who might have never had that conversation before–I know this is a complete tangent, I’m sorry.


LB: It’s okay.


HM: But anytime a lawyer with ADHD or autism or dyslexia speaks to me, sometimes it’s the first time they’ve talked about these things to somebody.


LB: Oh, yeah.


HM: And then you realize that not only are you the interviewer with your five questions that you originally had planned, but you’re also their confidant, their friend, their therapist, you’re kind of playing a lot of different roles at once.


LB: Wow, yeah.


HM: And what you expected maybe to be 20 minutes of your time turns into an hour and a half because someone sees the need to really tell you everything and they trust you, and you feel so good about it but you’re also like, “Oh my God, I have to sort through this mentally.” And then you have to recover from the fact that you were basically taking on somebody’s vulnerabilities for a while and then nothing gets done for the rest of the day because you have to process that.


LB: Yeah.


HM: And I’m sure you have that too where you have clients that tell you very personal or vulnerable things that obviously effects you, to some extent. You know?


LB: Right.


HM: Think about it, you think about that, it’s not like it just rolls off your back.


LB: Right, right.


HM: Because we’re not robots.


LB: We’re not?


HM: If you’re a robot, can you show me what it’s like to be a cyborg? I would really like to know. And something else in this whole self-care thing, I think as well, is that it’s okay to feel feelings.


LB: Yes!


HM: Because I know that even with interviewing people, I had this really nice young woman that I spoke to this week that was talking about bouncing between jobs, being unable to get a job because she has learning disabilities and other things she’s really struggling to get to that point where she doesn’t want to disclose and all sorts of different things. And I’m just sitting there like, “Oh my God, I want to be able to help, I’m so sorry. That sucks. Like, you passed the bar, you did everything right, you followed the yellow brick road, and you can’t get a job and that’s really unfortunate and it makes me so sad and I wish I could do more.” And she was in California, and I was thinking “who do I know in California?” And all the sudden, I needed to kind of detach and be like, “It’s okay that you feel feelings about this person that you spoke with. You don’t really know them that well, you have these feelings and that’s okay.”


LB: Right.


HM: And hopefully you can do her justice and people like her justice.


LB: Right, right.


HM: And that’s what I have to circle back to. Like you’re not doing this for you, you’re doing this for them.


LB: Right, right.


HM: Which is why it’s really scary writing about the things I’m writing about, because you don’t want to screw it up because it’s not about you.


LB: Well you’re not going to screw it up. That’s for sure.


HM: I’m only scared to screw it up because, I think it’s something that we haven’t really seen. So we haven’t really seen a book on neurodiversity from lawyers particularly.


LB: Right.


HM: Because everything that’s out there is just “mental health” or it’s representing people with autism only so…


LB: Right.


HM: You want to kind of be more inclusive and encompassing but also not screw it up.


LB: You’re not going to screw it up. Stop it!


HM: I just want to do it right. I just want to do justice, I think is the better word. There’s no right or wrong really, but I just want to do justice by this community and the lawyers who actually read this thing learn something.


LB: Well the good news is they’re going to learn something, they may not learn everything–


HM: I know, I think about a Zoom call I was on the other day, and it was for another mental health and wellness committee. And they said “we are not going to change the world on one zoom call.”


LB: Right, exactly!


HM: And you’re not going to change the world with one book but you’re starting the conversation going. So that’s what you have to remind yourself. If you get stuck with trying to reach perfection, or all these other things–


HM: It will never get done.


LB: Exactly, exactly.


HM: I think a lot about that is that you can’t go for perfection.


LB: Right.


HM: And I think letting go of perfection is something we could probably do a whole episode on.


LB: Right. It’s important.


HM: And I’m sorry I commandeered a lot of this conversation to talk about my project, because my project makes me really excited and I’m sure we could do a whole other episode on that too.


LB: But it’s translatable to anybody that’s working on a project. So we’re just using your project as a–


HM: As a learning opportunity.


LB: Exactly, exactly!


HM: I feel like this conversation’s getting a warm hug, like it’s going to be okay.


LB: It is! It is.


HM: In that we will figure out some structure and routine.


LB: Yes! Structure and routine and knowing that you’re doing the best that you can. And all the other noise, ignore.


HM: And realize that it’s okay to feel hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.


LB: Right, but address it!


HM: And make sure you don’t confuse them all with each other.


LB: Well sometimes they get confusing.


HM: I think so, because you can get angry because you’re tired, or you might be tired, or really you might be upset or you’re just lonely or–or you’re tired of being lonely.


LB: Or just hungry! You need something healthy, like fresh vegetables and some–


HM: Exactly, and also just listen to your body. Like sometimes for me I know I just need to eat something salty because you need that extra blood pressure. Anything else will–like trust your body.


LB: Exactly.


HM: Listen to what it tells you to do.


LB: Exactly.


HM: Because it might be telling you something that you might not.


LB: Exactly.


HM: So I think listening to your body, and taking care of yourself is definitely important for everybody to pay attention to, because it’s something I’m still learning to do.


LB: Well we all are. Everyday.


HM: I think that is something to end on a really good note to end on, is that we’re all trying to do this and learn every day and do better.


LB: Exactly, and take care of yourself. That’s all that’s a good way to relax.


HM: I feel like I just need to get a good deep breath. That’s a good way to relax too.


LB: There you go.


HM: A good deep breath.         


LB: Sometimes that’s all it takes, it doesn’t take much.


HM: And sometimes it takes a quick reset, just close my eyes, take a deep breath, and roll back my shoulders.


LB: Exactly.


HM: So I invite everyone listening to take a moment to regroup yourself, whatever that looks like. You got this, like I know self-care is messy and sometimes identifying your feelings could be difficult too, but we got this.


LB: Yep, exactly.


HM: And with that in mind, I think that wraps up today’s discussion on self-care. So be sure to check out, and check out their Twitter and Instagram @diffbrains, And don’t forget to look for them on Facebook. If you’re looking for me, you can find me on all major social media @HaleyMossArt or at .


LB: I could be found at Please be sure to subscribe and rate us on iTunes and don’t hesitate to send questions to Let’s keep the conversation going!

Spectrumly Speaking is the podcast dedicated to women on the autism spectrum, produced by Different Brains®. Every other week, join our hosts Haley Moss (an autism self-advocate, attorney, artist, and author) and Dr. Lori Butts (a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist, and licensed attorney) as they discuss topics and news stories, share personal stories, and interview some of the most fascinating voices from the autism community.