Autistics when outside of their comfort zone face elements that can easily trigger behaviors. These triggers and behaviors vary from individuals for several factors. I, personally, am proud of how well I have become able more recently to be equipped with the ability to manage my risk of being triggered by things that I have been known to go into various behaviors from.
Just this past Friday has been known for the prevalence of triggering situations. While eating my lunch at work, an announcement came across the public address system that the sanitary facilities would be available for some time. A triggering situation for anyone, let someone like myself that has the need to have facilities available due to anxiety and other challenges. My employer later closed for the day and I would have to go to the day program to finish the day. Which was done with little issue.
When I returned to the day program, there was an individual presenting challenging behaviors. Normally, I would feed into this and fight back with them, just like many others wanted to do. However, I kept my cool and instead worked with them to solve their issue. They may not be able to change themselves about their issues, but if I can help remedy their issue then I did something good. I was really surprised that I could contain my demeanor and poise. If I was presented with that situation within the past month from a week ago, I would have been triggered and would have gone into meltdown. I was told that I was more relaxed than some of the staff. It goes to show that the things I have in place for my mental health and autism challenges are in place for a reason and therefore must be maintained on a routine basis.
The day continued when I came home and cooked dinner and the food wasn’t totally the food that I enjoyed, but I ate enough to be fed. Later that evening, it was determined that the building that my employer is housed in would be without water on my next normally scheduled day and that portable toilets would be provided for sanitary facilities. Yet, another change to a schedule that has already been changed several times in the year. However, attendance for myself was optional and I communicated my need to not go there and it was accepted and understood. Situations like that make me thankful for what I have in my life and makes the ability to accept the things that are unpleasant easier.
Sometimes there are things in life that we don’t have a total grasp on and we don’t know the situational triggers it may cause. Thankfully, due to all the technological advances we can have the ability to know what we can mostly expect, but we don’t totally know. Change for autistics can be very difficult at times and can wreak havoc if not planned well. You can do all that you think that you can to make sure things go to plan, but there can still be an unknown factor that causes you to be triggered by something that is beyond your control. One must still be aware that nothing is foolproof and that situations can arise that you will need to employ the necessary coping skills for you to manage getting through life’s challenges, no matter how big or small they may be. Life is hard, and even more so to the autistic person. We try so much in our lives to make sure that we know and can be fine doing so many things that do not trigger our emotional or other internal response so we do not cause an event that others will notice. It isn’t always possible to be perfect in this arena, but with the help of others and the use of the necessary tools of the trade, we can make it less impact to ourselves and those around us.
I have to say that I think I finally understand that now recognizing when triggering events occur that I don’t react nearly in the manner that I did in the past. It took a lot of time to get to this point and it had flaws just like anything does. My piece of advice to those with mental health and other challenges is to reflect on the event (but don’t obsess on it.) Evaluate what is a trigger, how you can address it and what coping mechanisms you can employ. How do you react? How can someone help you get the care you need to regroup and recharge. For me, realizing all of these things has helped me accept to better manage my triggers and be better in less desired environments.