Adaptability to Flexibility

This week as much as last week has been a challenge. As autistics we oftentimes like things to happen precisely as we predict them. Sometimes, there are abrupt, unavoidable challenges to our routines or changes to our schedules that we don’t see coming. Some we can see that they are coming and some are unexpected. However, as the fluidity of the world today, we must prepare autistics of changes as best we can, but sometimes we cannot prepare for circumstances that are beyond our control and be ready to roll with these punches.
As last week ended with being off schedule and resulting in a meltdown, I was hoping for a return to normalcy. It was a bad meltdown and I discovered the triggers to be excessive caffeine intake and even though I was on a medication regimen again for a prolonged routine, I realized after spending a weekend of self-care that the caffeine and the excessive amounts of soda needed to go. It was hindering my ability to continue to lose weight. It was catching up with me and I had to nip the things that advanced my breaking point to a more relatable speed.
As planned, I began Monday as I normally do at work, as it has been since COVID. Soon after arriving at work Monday, I was told that I would be returning to a flexible schedule and that as long as our office building would be open, I would have to report to work based on the needs of my job and not certain days as I had been doing for the past 14 months. Another element was that restrictions on travel have been lifted.
This was a change that I figured would come someday but realize that I would need to adapt and while this week would remain the same, I would have to begin to have a little flexibility of my schedule, unlike the same two days of the week I had become used to for over the past year. While I have to accept that, I also have to keep in the back burner that the world is in an everchanging situation and there may be times where this may not be possible. I am very fortunate to have my job and my employer is good to me so I feel I need to adapt and honor the change as it is ordered.
The other day, I was home and received a text if I was working the next day, I replied “no” and got a phone call that the day program would be closed to members the next day, which was my scheduled day for emergency water repairs. I was shocked and thought this was a farce because I felt I needed to get back to some sort of routine before it would again be uprooted. However, this wasn’t the case as I would not have to return until I work at the end of the week.
I became depressed, upset, angry, all kinds of feelings passed my brain. I knew these feelings were normal but this was a circumstances that were beyond anyone’s control. That is the thing that has occurred most often in the past two years, most of the challenges I have had to experience have had a hard way of adapting their ways so I can better manage them. While I disliked the inconvenience of having my day at the day program cancelled beyond my control, I began to see it as an opportunity to practice more self-care. I also became cognizant of the need to maintain as much as a routine as possible by keeping up with the things around the house that I would normally do as they are important.
Where we get into trouble is when we retreat to our isolated space for extended period of time with lack of social contact. Social contact and development are essential to the autistic as they it prevents them from having laziness effects and the inability to properly control their behaviors. Unbelievably, oftentimes autistics would like to associate with others so they can get to know what interests they have or just know that they are OK. With the world being in the times we are in; many say that social media tools such as Facebook and other social media/networking platforms have been very helpful to me. Yest you have to balance safety and honesty, but I can tell you that loneliness has the possibility to diminish because there are SO many places out there for others to discover your talents. Likewise, there’s others who may share the same interest you have. I am certainly not leading your way into becoming a computer junkie, in fact there are many autistics who don’t want anything to do with a computer or technology, however it can be a building block to getting the proper help and skills you need to become more social and independent.
In closing, as one of my past van drivers always told me, “everything changes” and it is inevitable and we must be ready to sometimes at a moments notice be ready to change our game plan to a whole different mindset. The past two years has proven to me that and I still struggle, but I am hoping that going forward I can work on being better at it and grown more into a better man.

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