Salutations to big celebrations!
Hear ye hear ye, Aspire is now in session, the honourable Thomas Kuzma residing. I hope you are all having an awesome week. Mine was awesome, celebrating my birthday and playing Zombies.
I realise many of you in the aspie world might be dreading the following couple of weekends. It could be because of the oncoming noise of people celebrating Easter and ANZAC Day. It might be the social obligations, talking to cousins and having to kiss grandma on her big hairy lips (not that I have that problem, my cousins and Babcia are awesome). Who knows, a large break from routine could cause a meltdown.
Routine is what helps keep our mind on track. Structure is everything in the world of autism. It’s what makes the world go round, helps us through the day and keeps building us up. Now a holiday will obviously break structure, but there are ways of coping when our schedules suddenly change. Some of us won’t bother with the holiday and go inside to play video games. Yet there are family obligations and other events that just cannot be avoided.
Now we aren’t all alien to the idea of holidays, celebrations and festivals. Every year I go to Tropfest, Supanova and VIVID, but NOT the Easter Show (too much animal poo). We need celebrations to acknowledge moments of our lives and history. From birthdays to celebrating Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter, ANZAC day, the list goes on. Even though some of us are okay with these events I am sure many of us have trouble coping with everything. So what can we do?
A professional opinion
In the journey about finding serenity for aspies during times of celebrating I decided to pay a visit to Lauren Cheng, one of our psychologists at Aspect. Here’s a taste of what she said.
“By scheduling in some of your favourite activities before the holidays you can minimalise changes. This can include maintaining the same wake up time or meal times. Structuring the holiday might be helpful e.g. after breakfast, go for a walk… after lunch; watch a couple of DVDs… etc. It is good to have lists of what you like to do, ie, if you’re bored have a look at the list and pick something you would like to do to fill the time. Take it a step further, think of something you have put off doing e.g. cleaning up, and challenge yourself to do it in the break! (nothing huge, start with a small goal).
"If you have trouble talking to others try to prepare for some answers for the usual conversation topics, e.g. How’s school/work going? How’s your family? Captain America is out, have you seen it? etc. You could think of some topics to start conversations and practice the conversation starters
"Find a ‘refuge space’ in family gatherings, and then retreat to that space in overwhelming times.
"You may want to have a family spokesperson on your behalf, for him/her to tell people “hey, so and so wants a bit of air” or “he is doing ok, but maybe a bit noisy for him in here”.
"If a keen cousin enquires too much and you need to breathe, then tell them a reason to get some fresh air, e.g. 'I’m going to go get some more chips' or 'I’ll see if they need a hand in the kitchen'."
My two cents
Because of my fantastic and large Polish family, I am fine with family get-togethers and outings. There’s always fun to be had, from talking with cousins to playing board games.
Now family engagements have been fine, but when it comes to social outings, sometimes I've had trouble. Around a year ago I was asked to go to Karaoke with a friend. I faced the problem of being with a group of people I didn't really know. They didn’t know my condition. When I finally met up with them the guys were fun to hang with but a couple of the women could pinpoint my social awkwardness. Overall the night felt like a success, minus the way I was treated by the women.
I guess when it comes to social events, if you have trouble talking to people at these events, listening can usually be the best option. Who knows, they may bring up something you enjoy. If I am getting exhausted by the amount of senses being used, I will go outside or take a walk. That way I can cool my head and come back more focused on conversation.
When it comes to routine, it has somewhat left me in the past few years, however I still need routine in my everyday life. Sunday and Wednesday nights are ICECREAM NIGHTS! I have fish and chips every Friday and I have to have a shower after a hard day’s work in the office.
We have learnt a whole heap about getting through the holidays today. I feel like the advice that was given by Lauren has been very helpful. It’s best to plan ahead, to have people who may want to advocate on your behalf and to have pre-planned conversations pieces. This way you are ready for any oncoming challenges.
So until next time folks, remember chocolate may be delicious, but too much through the lips makes too much on the hips.
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