Autism adjustments

We can choose how to live better lives after diagnosis

Suddenly everything begins to make sense! All of the “whys” of our past, our misunderstandings of what happened, ideas about who did what and why, beliefs about our histories, our families, our experiences and our own self concept are shaken and shifted to the very core of our being.

Knowing how autism acted in almost all parts of our lives and how own behavior, thoughts, actions, and beliefs have always been affected ( since birth!) by autism is validating, upsetting, a relief, a sad disappointment, a painful and exultant discovery for many of us. One dominant emotion may keep us involved for months, hours, weeks, days… we turn it this way and that looking at our pasts, others, our selves , and work out how it “really was” or “really is”.

I can hardly describe all the changes my mind and emotions have gone through since I first suspected my autism.

One of the best parts of finding out I am autistic in my mid and late 60s from first suspicions to confirmation through official diagnosis, is that I have learned how to make adjustments to my life to make it better and easier for me.
I have been able to give myself permission to avoid doing social things that are distressing and difficult by changing my schedule to do “something else” instead. Instead of going to the wedding or big family party,
I am able to write a note or make a phone call saying I won’t be there on the day but that my heart will be with the celebrating person(s) and I will deliver or send a gift or a card instead.
If somebody wants to meet in a crowded restaurant, mall, or do an activity involving high levels of noise or crowds, I feel comfortable proposing something to do in a quiet setting or other peaceful location or activity.

Maybe I have to regretfully say, “sorry, I won’t be able to do that this time”, but most friends and family will forgive me. I will counter with another proposed activity at a later date, one that fits my abilities and sensory struggles better.

Schedules and activities, places to go and things to do can be changed for self accommodation once you know your personal struggles and recognize those things you can choose to do
( those which do not set off the anxiety, migraines, cause illness or strong discomfort.)

It is OK to say no to those things which are a struggle for you.

No matter what others think or say, self care must come first, and there are many ways of meeting “social obligations” without making yourself sick with stress over any proposed activity.

When we recognize our sensory struggles we can adjust our physical surroundings to help us find calm and quiet, help us do household chores, paperwork, self care and personal care, etc.
Just because grandma always used to do something a certain way does not mean you can not use any other method to do the same thing. Cook all day, bake and make everything from scratch? You don’t have to! You can buy from a deli, take carry outs home, buy pre prepared frozen dinners, go out to eat…. in almost every situation there are multiple options.

You might not have ever thought about changing things up, doing the same things or trying to force yourself to do the same things unsuccessfully over and over. (autistic rigid thinking in action there!).

Instead, if anything in your life causes constant distress, anxiety, emotional or physical overload, consider trying a different approach to accomplish any goal.

We can live better and easier lives by making changes, but first we have to recognize the things that are the most difficult for us,

Next we can give ourselves permission to do anything differently to make our lives easier and less filled with struggles. It is OK to try something different!

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