Tag Archives: work

AUTISM: when you plan for a change that doesn`t happen …

It’s a well known fact that change is hard for people with autism. If we are going to cope well with it we need to spend time planning for it and be ready well in advance. But what if the time comes and in fact things do not change as we thought they would? Is that a good thing, and can we just get on with our old routine as if nothing has happened? I cant speak for everyone, but for me the answer to this is No. If I have spent days or weeks planning for a change, and going over it again and again in my head, and then the moment comes and I am told it is not happening that will throw me even more than the original change would have done. I can give you a recent example of this, and attempt at least to explain why it impacts on me in the way that it does.

Last month my Mum was due to go in to hospital for surgery. She would have been in for a few days but then after she came out she would have needed looking after for quite sometime. Things would have been very different; I would have been doing a lot of the jobs, we would not have been getting as much writing and ASK-PERGERS?social media done, and my Dad would have been coming around more. While none of this is bad in itself it would have been different, and therefore I needed time to plan it and get used to the idea in my head. We talked it over a lot, planned what time I might get up, what time I might do the jobs around the house, how we might still get some writing and editing done, what I might make to eat, and just about everything else. We knew we had to plan otherwise we were leaving ourselves open to things going wrong. As far as we knew we had everything planned and set up to deal with the change that my Mum going in to hospital would bring – only she ended up not going in.

I should point out that we did know her operation might not go ahead, and in fact I was not at all shocked when I got the text from her a few hours after she had gone to the admissions unit telling me there were no beds, and she had to come home. It’s just one of those things that can happen, and has been happening more and more lately. But even though none of us were surprised at this change of plans it did put us in a strange place. We were all ready for things to change; for the normal routine to be put on hold for a while and a new routine to take its place, and now none of this was going to happen.

So what is meant to happen in this or similar situations? Are you just meant to wake up the next day and get on with your normal routine – that thing you have been telling yourself for weeks you wont be able to do. For me it does not work like that; it has been a month since my Mum was meant to go in to hospital, and I don’t think we have really got back to any kind of normal routine with work, the house, going out or anything since then. That’s not to say we have not done anything productive, but we have not done it in a routined way. We spent so long getting in to the mindset that our routine was going to change that we have been unable to change back, and get in to our old routine when there was no need for change.

I don’t know about anyone else with autism, but I can`t plan for two possible outcomes in a situation like this. I can plan for the change of routine, but that takes so much planning, and so much time to get used to I don’t have any space left to make a real plan for what will happen if that change does not take place. Just looking at this one situation, how can you make a proper plan for something that is so uncertain? It’s OK to know in the back of your mind the change might not take place, the operation might be cancelled, but what then? When will it be rearranged for? A week? Two weeks? A month? Will there be a set date for it? Or will it just be when ever they can fit it in? All these things would need a plan of their own, but we have no way of knowing which one we would be planning for until after the operation was cancelled. What about things that we decided not to do as Mum would be in hospital? Do we plan to do them now that she is not going to be in? Or would it be best to just leave them?

For me it’s too much to think about and too uncertain to plan for. I can plan for a change to my routine – even though that is hard enough – but I cant make any real plans for a change to the change. I just have to deal with that as and when it happens. But that is not easy to do; not knowing what is meant to be happening or when tends to lead to nothing or not much getting done, and the stress of this added to the stress of the change can lead to meltdowns. This has been the case over the last few weeks, and I am not to sure what we could have done to prevent it. As I say planning for something so uncertain is hard to do, and there is something of a feeling that with so much change back and forth meltdowns were bound to happen.

You can find my book here http://www.jkp.com/uk/communicating-better-with-people-on-the-autism-spectrum.html/

If you need any help or advice abut Asperger`s/Autism or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?

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Post Halloween – why November can be such a difficult month for autistic people.

There has been a blog on this site before which talked about how hard Halloween can be for autistic people, and gave some tips for how to cope with this.  But what I want to talk about today is the weeks following Halloween. It`s easy to think that because the event itself is over that’s the end of it, but the truth is that with autism overloads and meltdowns often don’t kick in until much later. It might be a week or two after Halloween that all the change and sensory input finally catches up to someone. By this time the people around them, and perhaps the autistic person themselves, is no longer thinking about Halloween, and does not make the connection. But it is worth keeping in mind that any overload or meltdowns can be due to the impact of something that happened weeks before.

It’s not so easy for someone with autism to just change their routine overnight, and that’s what Halloween requires a lot of the time. Everything changes for a few days as you eat different food, and people’s houses take on a different look (if they decorate them). And along with this there is all the sensory input from children knocking at the door or running around outside doing trick or treat. You can’t just wake up the next day and be over that.

It might be that you take a few days to ease back in to the normal routine of things.  But this is where it becomes a bit tricky because things don’t quite go back to normal at all. November is a strange month anyway; there is Halloween leading in to it then Bonfire Night, and after that people start the count-down to Christmas. Fireworks go off all the time, and there are a lot more people out and about on the streets. It’s a month where you are meant to just get on with your normal life, and yet the world around you is changed. Everyone starts to talk about Christmas, and it feels as if things are changing all the time. Or at least everyone is getting ready for them to change. As I say fireworks start going off sometime in October, and don’t stop until January. It might be that some people with autism enjoy fireworks, and like going out to see them, but for a lot of autistic people having them going off most nights, and even in the daytime is too much. It`s added sensory input that comes at random times, and can be extremely stressful for autistic people.

It is important to remember that while November is meant to be a normal month, it is far from it. Part of it is spent getting over the impact of Halloween, and all the change/sensory overload that can come with this, and part of it is spent anticipating the change, and stress that can come with Christmas. Even if you do work around these two things it might be worth taking the time to talk about the month of November itself with your autistic loved one, or give it some thought if you are autistic yourself. How do you get around the fact that it is basically a month spent dealing with the events of the month before, and the anticipation of events to come in the month after?

Writing about this and planning might be the key; write down what will be different about November, for example fireworks, and Christmas decorations in shops. Write about what the positives of this change might be, and also the negatives. And try to see the last three months of the year as one big time of change, and sensory stimuli. Don’t look at it as one big time of change, then a break, and then a second change.

Even if you just take one part of November – the fireworks – and think about the impact they can have on autistic people, you can see why it can be such a hard time of year.  Loud noises can be enough to send some autistic people in to melt down, and even if this is not the case the build-up of noise/lights plus the unpredictable nature of them can take its toll. It might be worth investing in some head phones either to play music, or just to block out sound. You might not want to, or be able to keep these on all the time, but if you know fireworks get worse after it goes dark then you could have them to put on at this time.

November is a hard month. Perhaps harder than October or December due to the fact that everyone around you wants you to get on with it as if it were just a normal month. But keep doing whatever works for you on Halloween, or start doing whatever helps you get through Christmas early on. Talking, writing things down, planning, talking about what change will happen, and what it means as well as just being aware that things might be hard can all help. I know myself that even though the last three months of the year can be a lot of fun, they can also be a lot of hard work. Of course everything changes again in January but that is a blog for another time!

You can find my new book here: http://www.jkp.com/uk/communicating-better-with-people-on-the-autism-spectrum-34251.html

If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s/Autism or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?

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And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762

Employable me

(Note: I have yet to watch this weeks episode)

For the last two weeks I have been watching Employable Me – me and seemingly everyone I follow on Twitter.  I just wanted to write a quick blog to discuss some of my thoughts on the show. When I first sat down to watch it I have to admit it was with a certain amount of trepidation. Whenever I watch anything that deals with autism I always have that mix of feelings; hoping it’s going to be good, but ready to cringe if it’s not.  But I am happy to say that so far Employable Me has not made me cringe at all.

We already know as autistic people, or as the families of autistic people, just how hard it can be for someone with autism to find work. Not everyone of course, and some people have no issue getting a job.  But for most autistic people it is hard.   A lot of that hardship comes not from their autism, but from the attitudes of employers.  It’s good to see that the show deals with this.  The main point for me, and one the show seems very keen to make, is that autism will not stop you working, but pre-conceived ideas about autistic people might.  Now that being said, I know for some people their autism might stop them from being able to work, but what I mean is that not everyone who is autistic will be unable to do so.

People by and large, whether they are autistic or not, want to work. They want to feel as if they can take care of themselves, and their families, and that they do not have to rely on the state to take care of them – that they are not at the mercy of changes to benefits. Getting a job can have all kinds of advantages for anyone, but for autistic people it can also provide routine, and a sense of independence. Not only that, but it’s clear to anyone who knows anything about autism that at times it can benefit an employer to have autistic people working for them. I have written a lot in the past about the positive traits that can come with autism. Such as an eye for detail, dedication and creative thinking.  And it’s good to see that the show highlights these instead of just trying to make us feel sorry for autistic people.

Overall I am enjoying the show, and I can see why it is going down so well among autistic people. It highlights a very real and important issue that a lot of autistic people face.  An issue that lots of autistic people have been trying to draw attention to for years now.  Putting it out there in the public eye must be a good thing. Another thing that I enjoy about the show is that is manages to portray how funny things can be without feeling like it is making fun of autistic people.  It is funny in parts because that’s just how life is. But despite that is does not feel as if it is set up to make light of people, and their autism. I plan to keep watching it, and see how it goes on.  Hopefully it will continue to be good.  Let me know what you think of Employable Me down below.  Do you enjoy the show?  Tell me what you like or dislike about it.

If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s/Autism or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?

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And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762

Work vs Rest.

One of the things that is talked about a lot when it comes to dealing with stress, and overloads in autistic people is rest days; basically just taking a day to relax, and not having to worry about doing anything.  It might be a set day each week, or it might just be decided depending on how the individual feels day to day.  I myself talk about them, and advise autistic people to take them, and not to feel guilty for not doing much on those days.  But as much as I talk about them, and know them to be a good thing I still find it hard to take my own advice, and let myself have days off.  I find that I have a lot to fit in; I write both books and articles, I edit my work, I like to read, work out, and watch films most days. There are also the things I might not want to do that need to be fitted in: jobs around the house, or going out somewhere. Well if I take a whole day off doing things like that, or even if I just relax and only do a small amount I start to feel guilty, as if I should be doing something. I know in my own head that the quality of my work will be poor if I work on days when I feel overwhelmed, or even on the point of a shut down.  And yet I still find it hard to allow myself to have a day of resting.

I like to work and I like to end the day knowing I have done a lot of work.  But it is about time I started taking my own advice.  There is no point pushing yourself past the point where you work starts to slump.  Working hard is great if you also work well, but you can work as hard and as long as you like only for it to be pointless if you don’t work well.

I find that something as simple as having a rest day means that I am able to come back and do better work both in my job, and just around the house, and in life in general.

The issue is trying to stop feeling guilty, or lazy for saying you are having a day off.  In fact relaxing, and resting is a key part of working well.  Pushing yourself to your limits is fine, but its also OK to set up a good work and rest balance, and stick to this.  Different things work for different people, but my advice would be – if you feel you need rest days, then take them. Don’t worry about feeling lazy, just take the day off, and get back to things the next day.  It is a part of autism – at least for some people it is.  It might mean you clash with the way you like to do things, but finding a way of being at ease with the idea of resting is important if you wish to get the best from yourself work-wise.

If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s/Autism or simply want to talk about it check out our free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?

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And have a look at our books (at the time published under pseudonyms, but we did write them trust us on that!)  http://www.jkp.com/catalogue/author/1762