You may notice that we swapped days this week for my Concentrating on COVID piece. There is a reason, which you will see tomorrow. But, if anything as COVID has taught me, it is to learn that sometimes we as autistics need to be able to be flexible and adapt to things, sometimes with short notice.
In the two years we have been fighting COVID-19, the first thing, while it can be very hard to autistics is the need to be flexible and adapt to situations that need to be changed, sometimes at a moment’s notice With COVID, this can happen because it is many times out of the control of those that can make the decision for us. If you remember in March 2020, much of the world shut down. No program, no work, nothing. We could get what we needed, but how it was done changed. This initial plan was to be for two weeks. Then, in my state anyway, it continued for two additional months, resulting in many losing routine opportunities such as Easter and some other events to name a few.
For me, things started somewhat back to normal in June 2020. But they were nothing like the same. The looming fear of whether one could be infected with COVID continued to hang over our heads. While I have been fortunate, there have been autistics that have been in the forefront of needing to quarantine, sometimes several times. While the initial period was 14-days, it has now been reduced to 5. Having to quarantine and isolate can be very challenging for autistics because of how regimented we can be with our routines.
It isn’t saying that I am willy nilly with my routine as an autistic person. I still have a routine. It is that I have learned at times, I need to change things around by prioritizing needs depending on what time I get up on those days that do not require me to leave the house. I do not become discouraged whenever I sleep in, I become thankful that I am able to get some extra rest because as you know autistics struggle with sleep and my body must be telling me that I need some more sleep to be in the present moment. I have learned that the things that need done in my routine can wait until my heart is ready to do so and I can fully comprehend what I am doing.
Another thing that COVID-19 has taught me in the realm of flexibility is that even if you set a plan to do something, that thing you want to do is not guaranteed because establishments can close or modify their delivery of services at a moment’s notice. While more frustrating for autistics, we must remember that others are affected by this too and that we are all in this together in the fight against COVID and many times are doing what is best in many cases to protect the general public.
Sometimes, things can happen for a good reason. It can be by pure fate that they do. We as autistics must work to gracefully accept the changes that are presented to us by responding instead of reacting to them causing distress among others who are experiencing the same thing. Know that you are not, in many cases being exposed to a potentially risky situation that could cause you harm and result in you needing to quarantine or isolate. When things change, many times it is because it is done to protect the safety of others from harm or danger. When the risk is taken, it can result in a more anxious situation for everyone involved, causing undue stress.
While there is an early glimpse that COVID may be able to be better tamed,many autistic people have learned that change must occur and are learning the need to be flexible with our routines. While autism is indeed a wide array of a spectrum and we have all experienced the effects of the pandemic in many different ways, we must remember that it taught us many lessons about the fact that we do need to be flexible and the need to have things modified for us, while challenging, can occur.