As we enter Autism Awareness Month and the state mandated stay at home order continues, it is important to recognize that individuals like myself who are on the autism spectrum are struggling with routines being disrupted by the stay at home order. Thankfully, there are ways to navigate being quarantined if you are on the autism spectrum.
Going on walks
Despite social distancing taking place in Connecticut and other parts of the country, walking outside is still allowed as long as you are six feet apart from another person. Walking can help release any excess energy that may be built up from anxiety caused by staying inside. Walking on a set path in a familiar area also creates some comfort in uncertain times. The only caveat against walking would be if you are sick. In that case, stay home for however long health professionals recommend.
This is the most boring tip for surviving a quarantine, but it may be the most effective in terms of creating structure. As someone who has Asperger’s syndrome, making lists is a challenge but it does help organize my day. For someone who is on the autism spectrum, writing or typing a schedule for a day can help ease the stress of figuring out what needs to get done on a particular day, especially when taking online classes.
Working on a hobby
The world may seem bleak right now and it may be hard to find any passion to do anything creative. However, working on a hobby such as drawing or making videos is a good way to take your mind off of the current situation, especially if you are on the autism spectrum. Having something to work on that you are passionate about is a great way to not only show the world that you are more than what your condition says you are, but it also allows you to focus on something other than school work or what is going on in the news.
Having a regular sleep schedule
Without the routine of sleeping in a dorm and going to in-person classes on campus, staying up later than you normally would is tempting. However, just because your surroundings are different doesn’t mean your body’s need for sleep is. Getting a healthy amount of sleep is important, especially for someone on the autism spectrum. One tip that has helped me get more sleep is to avoid all stimulating activities such as studying or video games an hour before bedtime. Anything that I can’t get done on a particular day, I just move to the next day.
Being social during social distancing
One of the biggest struggles of being on the autism spectrum is being social. While it is easy to isolate during a lockdown, it is essential to have healthy social connections since it can help relieve stress and improve social skills, such as eye contact and listening. If you are on the spectrum and you have friends who are online, try reaching out to those friends since they are also looking for social connection during this time. It is also okay if you are on the spectrum and you don’t want to connect with someone right away since being social can be tiring. Even if you are not the most social person, having at least some connection to another person is a healthy way to focus on something besides COVID-19.
Some of these tips may be easier to implement than others and it’s understandable that the rapidly changing nature of COVID-19 can be damaging to those on the autism spectrum. The best advice to manage being on the spectrum while under lockdown is to try your best to live the life you were living before the pandemic since familiarity is a light in a tunnel of uncertainty.
Ian Ward is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.