” I don’t need accommodations”. I actually thought this for a moment or two, but then
After thinking it over, I realized I have all sorts of accommodations built into my living arrangements and routines. My husband accounts for a ‘natural fit’, having an “engineer brain” where he needs everything orderly and his schedule predictable to function at his best. Spouse has all sorts of things arranged a certain way. I naturally fell into his way of doing things long ago, because it worked for me too. Everything has a place where it belongs (our household belongings). If I replace something where it does not belong, I am reminded it does not belong there ( this is fairly frequent and sometimes stressful for both of us ).
We fell into the habit of cleaning every Saturday morning early in our 39 year relationship because we both worked on Monday Through Friday schedules. We still clean on Saturday mornings.
We share the chores of doing dishes, alternating days, I do them one day, he the next. He takes on the extra day… I do all the laundry, odd household jobs, washing floors, (cat care, feeding, doing litter box duty, cleaning the yard of dog waste, taking the pets to the vet) he mows and maintains the house, shovels snow, manages the check book, and cares for the car. We each have roles that are comfortable for us, and we rarely step out of those roles. Predictable routine! You saw that, right?
We schedule any deviation from this by using our calendar (Dr appointments, planned trips, planned visitors, etc) No surprises.
I choose my clothing for comfort and utility. Nobody else controls my wardrobe, nobody else influences my choices. ( NO uniforms, no requirements to dress a certain way for the office or other conducting of business, no pressure from spouse or companions to dress in certain ways.)
I go to my little work area in the basement or to read in the bedroom with a shut door during the times he plays the radio, watches TV , or DVDs . I have a special place for all my rock and fossil collections, my crafts, my plant hobby, my aquariums, and they stay in those areas. ( I guarantee they are not as organized as the parallel spaces alotted for my husband’s interests!)
Having a spouse with a craving for order has been a blessing, because he provides the structure and stability which I lack in my own organization skills.
My retreat from the radio and video/DVDs/television to my favorite nest ( recliner with fuzzy blankets) has been ongoing when I realized many years ago how upsetting most visuals/ and associated sounds are for me. He loves his movies and TV programs and in fairness I can’t ask him to stop listening and watching.
I have a craft closet and a work spot in the basement, my aquariums for my ongoing study of guppy genetics, and also my gardening as escapes whenever I need solitude or quiet. I go to the woods or the lake shores I love.
I have earplugs which I use when I can hear noises such as the neighbors’ loud radio when they sit outside on their patio or sun themselves by the pool. I am grateful that I am able to control my surroundings and schedule.
What is it like for older autistic people in care homes, dependent on others to arrange small things like lighting, food choices, temperature, sounds heard, comfort of clothing, bedding, arrangement of furniture, daily schedule, etc??? Every one of these things is so important to my senses in every day life!
Many of my struggles eased when I became able to make decisions like this for myself. I am so grateful that my present is more conducive to comfort and safety/ stability than my former lives. What can we do to make life more tolerable for those autistic people who are not as lucky/blessed/fortunate/ situated/ accommodated as I am?
Remembering the work days and my first marriage, all the social demands, the ‘eating out’ with other couples or co workers, the attempts at being in step with fashion and keeping up with news reports, discussions of current events, pressure to do things like join the company softball league or bowling team…. all gone. Fear and anxiety and desire to escape were constant and unending. I was always sick with headaches and stomach aches, overwhelmed and both misunderstood and misunderstanding.
I have already adapted and made my own accommodations. Even unknowing about the autism, I was able to find ways to cope with the symptoms of sensory and emotional overload. So fortunate!
Retirement is the best accommodation of all. I struggled with bullying and unstated/in completely understood or unclearly expressed or implicit and misunderstood expectations in almost every interaction with others.
Anxiety produced by going to work provided plenty of energy to accomplish things; I almost never disappointed in work performance, but co worker relationships were pure misery. Not understanding why this was so was an added burden. Self doubt, self blame, self hate. Why couldn’t I fix it??? What a relief to not have those every day stresses. Retirement removes all of that and allows me to follow inclination to research on the internet and in books, explore nature, choose my companions or choose not to have any.
My anxiety is leaving me gradually as I understand more about my autism, but also in my realization that I am ‘safe’ for the most part from the bullying and stresses of my work day. Of course I realize that quitting your job is not an option for most of us. The stress of finding a job that is tolerable and that we are able to perform, and still brings in enough income to afford housing and food is real, and unavoidable. I spent 49 years working, most of us will do the same to survive.
My improvement in my life and level of stress are due to the accommodations I hit upon accidentally, but that work very well for me in my current situation and my new understanding of my needs (something I really never gave much thought to before).