Throughout Autism Awareness Week I will be writing a few posts about life on the spectrum starting from the 27th of March 2017. This will include posts about me, my artwork and how being on the spectrum effects them.
During this month I will be donating 25% of my earnings through my art store to the National Autistic Society along with 15% on any originals for the whole of March as a thank you for their continued support.
Throughout my life I have developed ways of coping with situations without even realising I do it. Writing these down was great way to reflect on what I do to cope with day to day life and how my autism diagnosis made me aware of there importance. I have listed a few of the strategies that I now use during my week.
Even before my diagnosis I had coping strategies to get through the day. The commute to school was a noisy one that was filled with loud noises and I felt like I was under constant surveillance from everybody around me. Without thinking about it I started taking headphones with me everywhere until it became a natural thing to do as it shut everything out around me and sealed me in a protective bubble. I had my destination and I would navigate my to it without having to awkwardly interact with people.
My love for music became a way to keep calm and cancel out the world allowing me to process things slower. Throughout my life I fell in love with albums and the artwork that came with them. I ended up with a huge collection of CD’s that piles high giving me a huge selection to fit my mood meaning I rarely get bored with what I have accessible.
As time progressed and I got older I gained responsibilities which mean’t music alone couldn’t always get the job done as my head got busier and more clouded. This is where portable video games became a saving grace. The commute to university was a two hour journey to and from Coventry so a lot of my time was devoted to being sat on a train. Normally I would try and draw but trying to keep a steady hand on a train is almost impossible.
I played a lot of Pokemon on the train building competitive teams that I would then use to play against people online when I relaxed at home. The repetitive process of hatching eggs in game was therapeutic and achieved what music always had and isolated me away from the world. A lot of students misunderstood my playing games habits as being unproductive and lazy but upon reflection I now realise how important those hours on that game was. It allowed me to complete my third year of University and function without added strain.
2016 brought the release of a mobile game called Pokemon Go! which I have written about on this blog twice already highlighting the positives that the game has brought to my life. Pokemon Go made travelling easier and less stressful as it stole away my attention from a journey and would prevent me from panicking when traffic would happen. I don’t rely on the game to keep me distracted as often as I needed it in Uni but having it there for back up is a huge comfort.
One of my best and most fool proof ways of getting myself to do something is giving myself a reward for doing it. It can be as simple as a glass of coke or getting to play games but having the relaxation as a goal is a perfect way to get through stressful situations. Acknowledging a situation will be stressful is a great help as I can plan accordingly and provide rest time.
During University I bought a electric drum kit as I had always wanted to learn to play. I taught myself to play and I now latch onto any sort of beat that happens around me. One of my strategies is to tap to the beat of music playing. It doesn’t have to be loud but it keeps my mind in check from overthinking situations. The best example I can give is when I volunteer at Oxfam on a Wednesday where I spend a shift facing the public and if it gets busy the music on the radio gives me the premise to stay calm and collected.
The final technique I want to talk about is planning. When I was younger I planned pretty much every encounter I would have during the day but swiftly learnt that the world around me is out of my control. Planning can be rigid but I try to to allot times to when I want to accomplish a task. For example, If I was getting the coach to Manchester to visit my Girlfriend I would focus on the time it took to get into Birmingham from home, then a set time to mentally prepare myself and visit the toilet before making my way to the coach stop.
These set encounters have extra time added to them with the possibility of troubles, example toilets out of order or traffic. This planning makes the experience as stress free as possible. As time has passed I have adapted to be flexible but the ability to plan the situation gives me comfort and a sense of control.
This has been a pretty lengthy post so a big thank you to anyone who got this far. I will be posting blogs throughout Autism Awareness Week about my life on the spectrum so be sure to keep an eye out for the future posts. I’m primarily an artist so check out my artwork on my website in the Portfolio section and the About me.
I also created a painting especially for Autism Awareness Week which I talked about yesterday. This painting is available for purchase on my online store with 50% of its earnings going straight to the National Autistic Society.