This will be my second post on the blog series “Autism and me”. In the first blog post, I talked about the challenges I faced when it came to socialising with others, and the link of this post can be found here. In this blog post I will talk about another massive challenge that I have faced, which is adapting to change. I will talk about the ways in which adapting to change has been difficult for me as well as ways in which I have tried to overcome it.
One of the ways that I struggled when it came to adapting to change is coping with last minute changes in routine. Throughout my life, I have always been someone that liked having a routine and a structure to my day and week. However, in the past, I would be quite rigid and follow my routine strictly to the extent that any last minute changes to my routine, no matter how small, would put me off. For example, when I was in middle and high school, there would be times where things like lessons being cancelling or things overrunning would stress me out. And it was often the case that if I got stressed because of this at the start or the middle of the day, it would affect the rest of my day. Moreover, things that would change my routine in the medium to long term would also make me anxious, such as changes in times to certain lessons or extracurricular activities.
I also struggled when it came to adapting to changes in circumstances. I am someone that liked to have a good idea of things that will happen in the future, and having certainty is something that would put me in ease. Therefore, when changes in circumstances happened which was unexpected or sudden, I would find it hard to cope. The thing that I would find hardest is finding ways to deal with change and take it in its stride. Furthermore, the thing I want to highlight here which is important is that changes in circumstances didn’t have to be something major for it to stress me out, it could even be something small such as changes in plans that were set out in advance. I would also like to mention here that struggling to deal with changes in circumstances also meant that I initially found the transition of starting any new chapter of my life tough. This includes transitions such as from high school to sixth form, from sixth form to university etc.
With a lot of things, I did get better over time when it came it dealing to change. When it came to things that came up which meant a change in routine for a given day, the fact that it happened so often was a blessing in disguise because it meant I got used to it. I eventually considered thigs coming up last minute as something that is normal, which meant that I was able to put in place strategies that would help me adapt. I then began to realise that it’s not the end of the world if things come up that leads you to change your routine for that day, as you can move things around in most cases. Furthermore, what helped me deal with sudden changes in circumstances is putting things in perspective, as changes in circumstances which seem big in the moment may be insignificant in a year’s time.
I have got a lot better at dealing with change in the past few years and university has really helped me with that. However, the last 3 months have really put all of this to the test. As some readers of this blog post may know, I started my first full time job 3 months ago in this pandemic. Starting my first full time job straight after graduation is a big chapter of my life, and starting a new job remotely for the majority of it is definitely an unexpected change in circumstance. Therefore, it has been a massive, massive change to adjust to from university, and arguably the biggest change I will have to adapt to in my life. And admittedly I have found this change very tough, and there have been some extremely hard days in the process. However, I do think I have coped very well despite this. It is worth noting that if this happened a few years back then I would certainly have crumbled under the pressure of all the changes. But I haven’t crumbled yet despite some days being ridiculously difficult. What has helped me in the last few months in particular is having coping strategies put in place that I know I can rely on. When coping strategies relate to things you enjoy, they can help with having something to look forward to when you have had a long and difficult day.
What sort of things have helped you adjust to any sort of change?