The end of an old year and the start of a new one can be a hard time for people who find change difficult. It’s a time when the whole world puts a day aside to build up to a world-wide change that you can not opt out of, or do anything about. Plus it comes right on the heels of Christmas when things change in peoples` day to day life whether they like it or not. Even if you don’t `do` Christmas yourself, or try and keep it low-key, things around you will still have changed, e.g. lights being up around the streets, shops being closed, or people not being around who normally are. This year it’s an even bigger change as it’s the end of one decade, and the start of another. Again even if you yourself are not making a big thing about the new decade you will still not be able to get away from the fact that everyone around you is. It’s all over the news, there are fireworks going off and people will be asking you for your thoughts on the last ten years, and the ten to come.
I am aware that so far it must sound like I am quite down about the holidays, but that is not the case at all. In fact I love Christmas time, and I enjoy being able to look back on the decade and plan for the next one. But no matter how much I might like it I can never get away from the overload that comes with it. In a way that’s one of the things I find the most hard about autism; it’s not a case of if you find something hard you dislike it, and if you enjoy it you are able to deal with it. No, even if you love this time of year it will still be hard. I know I have not posted anything in the build-up to Christmas or New Year about how best to deal with it – and of course that is not the point of this blog as it would be far too late for that – but I still wanted to put some of my thoughts out there about New Year.
For myself (and I will write more about this in another blog) I am quite positive about the start of a new year/Decade. I know that logicically things are no different from one twenty four hour period to another, just because we use a different set of numbers to identify them, but I still like having a clear start and end date in mind when making plans. The fact that this is not just the start of a new year, but the start of a new decade makes it quite a good time to start long term plans. But as I say even with that positivity I have still been feeling quite overloaded for the past few weeks. I have had – as I always do – a lot of fun over Christmas and New Year, but there have also been days (or parts of days) where I have found it hard to do anything, snapped when spoken to, and felt low. I have dealt with these times the best I am able to, but I am sure (well I know for a fact) I am not the only autistic person who will have felt like this, and still might. In a way I am lucky as I understand why I feel like I do, and know that even though it’s still hard it’s not at a point any more where it happens everyday over Christmas. It’s something that I am used to having to deal with over the holidays, and I am aware it might never go away. Overload and stress are things I will always have to think about around Christmas and New Year, and I know that’s also the case for a lot of the people reading this blog.
Perhaps the good thing about New Year if you do find change difficult is that even though it’s a big change, it is the start of being able to get back to normal after all the change that comes with December. Once New Year is out of the way you start getting back to work, school or your normal routine. Things change back pretty fast from how they were in December. This can be hard in its self as you might have only just got used to the way things are by the time they start to change back! But at least you know if you get through it there will not be a spell of change like this for another year.
It can be nice to use the start of a new year as a time to start a new plan, and routine that can you can stick with for the next year, or perhaps even beyond, but in a lot of ways it’s also a hard time to start anything due to the overload that can come with the change. As I say January is the time most people get back to normal after having a break, but I know there are some autistic people who feel like they need a break, and a rest in January after dealing with all the change of December.
Overall it’s a strange time for everyone, autistic or not; people lose track of time, do things they would not do at other times of year, make plans and deal with change. But when you are autistic it comes with added stress. For some autistic people this might impact on them in a way they can deal with, and not stop them from having a good time, and sadly for some autistic people it will come to dominate the whole of December, and early January to the point where they can not enjoy this time of year. This can also change from year to year, as I say when I was younger I found this time of year a lot harder. It’s taken time, and a lot of work over the years (and it’s not, and never will be perfect) but I am able to deal with the change a lot better now than I was when I was younger. The point I am trying to make is that even if this time of year is hard it does not have to be as hard next year or the year after. I have not been writing much this year but that will change (Again I will go in to this more in another blog). So I would hope to be writing more tips, and advice for how to deal with Christmas and New Year when we are heading in to 2021.
Overall, despite the change and the overload that can come with this time of year, I do enjoy it, and always look forward to it. I am glad to be done with 2019 and the whole of the 2010s, and on to the 2020s.
I am writing this blog at nine in the morning on New Year’s day, and I hope I have started the year as I mean to go on. Change can be hard, but it can also be good when the fog of overload clears. Although I am not a fan of the idea of New Year’s resolutions I do think there is something to be said for the difference between a change that it forced upon you, and that you have no power over, and a change you decide to make happen. I can do nothing to stop there being change at this time of the year, but at least I can make the best of it, and try and make the change a good one. After-all, I am going to be overloaded anyway, so I might as well make the best of it.
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