Hi everyone – I thought for the next post in my Sensory Series I’d discuss how difficult it can be as an Autistic person to manage change.
In my Sensory Series I’ll be sharing text slides on different aspects of Sensory Processing (in between my regular posts of illustrations) so I can share my own outlook on all things sensory. I thought it would be interesting to share my own experiences, tips and tricks along the way.
Slide 1: Why it can be very difficult to manage change
Changes can be big or small. Yet they still feel totally overwhelming and life-altering…even if they aren’t really.Something as small as not being able to find your normal shampoo or your favourite brand of cereal at the supermarket can honestly feel like the end of the world in that moment.
So imagine how big things like social occasions let alone life events can be to an Autistic person. They can be utterly huge and hard to process.
It’s very difficult to describe how scary change can be as an Autistic person with sensory issues. I strive for normal, sameness and routine and when this is messed with I can’t cope.
The thing is…I might look like I am coping well with change. But I (and many autistic people) have mastered the art of ‘masking’ where we are very effectively able to keep up an ‘act’ or ‘front’ of managing when inside we are extremely distressed and overwhelmed. It’s so draining.
This is something that can come flooding out once we reach our own safe environment like home. This might look like a shutdown or meltdown which can be worrying for surrounding family, friends, etc.
Sometimes we just need the space and time to decompress and process what has or is going on. And that is okay. It sucks in the moment when you can’t manage what is going on but I’ve learnt…the feelings do pass and life does carry on.
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Please do share this post and feel free to comment down below how you cope with change and any tips you have!
Hi everyone! Here is a new drawing I did explaining how change can affect autistic / neurodiverse people and those with sensory issues. Below I’ve summed up some positives and negative parts about change. So here’s the little explanation of each doodle!
• Organising and labelling: I LOVE TO ORGANISE. It makes not only my space feel tidier but my mind too and I am able to more freely think. Also when it comes to paperwork I have dedicated separate folders for life admin, finances, freelance stuff, autism research, etc and although it took me a while to set-up it’s totally worth it in the long run! Now I don’t have to frantically search through paperwork to find things and dividers and my label maker = my best friends.
• Products that change: OMG do not get me started on thisssss. I will rant. Here goes. WHY DO PRODUCTS HAVE TO CHANGE? My safe foods get changed in the form of packaging or recipe and it just causes absolute chaos in my head. Also my shampoo changed its ingredients and branding / look and feel a while ago and I was NOT OKAY. I know many people like to buy products and clothing in bulk or multiples because they know it works well for them and they don’t want to find them gone the next time they go back.
• Cleaning up at home: Again a bit like organising things this gives me a sense of purpose and it’s a nice change to see in your house when everything has it’s own place and you know where to find things. I like dusting and cleaning my shelf’s and workspace regularly just to keep it clean!
• Last minute change: UGH. I hate when plans change last minute or something or someone cancels on you when you’ve sort of worked yourself up for something social. I know this is probably happening less as a whole due to the pandemic but even if one one cancels an appointment or video call with me its really unsettling.
• Decorating and painting: I am TRULY AWFUL when it comes to this. I find a change in my immediate environment HUGELY distressing. It took me ages to liking our family bathroom once it was renovated and it didn’t feel like my comfortable space anymore. I just hate visual change and I cannot describe my emotions or feelings (alexithymia) at all it’s just complete shutdown / meltdown inducing.
• New special interests…ARE THE BEST! It’s a good sort of change as you become deeply focused into a new topic and dive deeper into random wormholes and research avenues and truly loose and immerse yourself in information!
• Change in smell / scent: Again this is not cool. I can’t use an air freshener in my car because it’s so overwhelming to have such a strong scent in such an enclosed space and I stick to one detergent religiously because I can only stand that smell when it comes to my clothes (I even take it on trips with me I’m that rigid with it).
• Seeing growth: This can be both mentally and physically. If I try and challenge myself with a small bit of change I do see some growth in terms of succeeding at something I found difficult.