Autistic and adapting to lockdown
Ben is Autistic and
likes to use social media as a way of giving people an insight into what it’s
like to have Autism. Following the change of routine caused by lockdown, here
are his thoughts and the difficulties he has faced.
Guidelines we need to follow
Like most people, I'm currently off work and have been advised to shield. I received a letter where the government advised that I stay in my own room away from others in the house. I also need to ask my family to leave meals at the door and use a separate bathroom.
I know you're probably wondering if I am going to those extremes or not.
The short answer is no. While I appreciate that I should follow the guidelines I also understand that we should apply common sense. So, while I'm not following the guidelines to the letter, I'm also not going out and licking the freezer door handles at the supermarket either.
Disclaimer: I do not advise you do that even outside of a global pandemic!
I am however taking all the usual steps to protect myself and others.
Navigating these changes
Like the rest of the general public, this has had an impact, but not in the way you might think. Being Autistic means I like my space, so social distancing is quite a relief in some circumstances. I enjoyed not having to be prepared for the unwanted touches and people brushing up against you, but I am now struggling with the issues that this brings. Routines are important, as are rules and facts, but I can struggle with social cues and knowing how to react in certain scenarios.
When I'm in a supermarket and the rules say to keep two metres distance, I can clearly see (knowing from the floor to my hip is exactly 1m) that people are often too close to me.
How do I react? Do I ask them nicely? Do I scream at them because this is the sixth time in the same shop that someone has done it to me? Do I just ignore it and move away if I can? If I move, have I just invaded someone else's two metres? If I have, what do I say? Do I apologise? I don't feel like saying sorry makes up for putting them and their family in danger if I'm a carrier of coronavirus.
I rely a lot on reading people to help me navigate how I should react, but with everyone wearing masks I have also found this difficult. I completely understand why, but it is hard. I've also seen that people with hearing impairments have been finding it hard as they’ve not been able to rely on lipreading to help communicate with others.
The big impact
The change in routine or loss of routine has also hit hard. It took me 26 years to understand and learn all the rules of society and learn social cues that are crucial for daily life. However, every single rule I knew and every situation I learnt how to handle has changed. I have no idea, like everyone else, when or if these will change.
Sadly, there have been Autistic people who have found these changes to be unbearable and haven't had the coping mechanisms to handle them. Regrettably, they have felt no other option but to take their life. So, I would like to pay respect to those people.
This isn’t a moan or anything like that, I just wanted to share my perspective. Everyone is just doing what they believe is right. We might be going through the same thing, but everyone's circumstances are different.
How have you felt with the change of routine? Have you struggled to feel comfortable outside? Let us know in the comments below!