Hide messageView More

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Read More

Topic of Change - Impact of 2021

By Khylil

The overall format of this year has been such a wonderful highlight of this year and there’s just so much to be thankful for as this year closes out. I mainly say this because, within the course of this year, there has been so much change and the impact of this change has made me think throughout the course of this year and where I would like to go moving forwards! The whole perspective of this year has been nothing but mental differences and even the fact that I couldn’t even accept the fact that I even went through that. I feel as though I have been more of a responsible person and by that fact, I am extremely thankful for that! In this blog, I’ll be expressing my physical, mental, and deeper expression of what I have seen with the topic of change with autism awareness.

Health: Benefits for a new habit

So, discussing the elephant in the room, my physical and mental state has been one of the most important things that I would like to improve throughout the course of this year, and I do feel like there has been so much that I have improved on that area, and despite the fact knew I wanted to address it at the end of 2020,  it never occurred to me that I wanted to keep in a more consistent manner. I just didn’t think I was a pretty consistent person when it comes to doing activities that I am relatively new at, and surprisingly this was something that started off as a joke, YES a joke! 2 months after I wrote the blog on my personal condition at the end of 2020, I did gain some of the weight back, but however, I did see myself mentally having that crave to come back. Oddly enough, as the family was planning the summer vacation, we decided we wanted to do a health-based activity inspired from the show The Biggest Loser. It was pretty interesting because I only saw advertisements and never saw the show, but however the idea was that “you lose weight, you win money.” And as motivating as that sounds, weirdly enough, I wanted to do it, and as a result…I lost. 

This whole concept of me losing weight kind of began at the end of 2019 but when I did it around that time, I wasn’t in the right mindset to come up with a plan or anything, I just said “I’m going to jog” and it was a wrap right there. Suddenly I did gain it back and the people around me (as well as myself) didn’t think of anything bad about the way that I looked and that’s the mindset that I had, not that I didn’t care about how I looked but how I wanted to approach this entire situation if I was to get onto it. The main reason why I lost the weight (without getting too detailed about it) was that I had to get my wisdom tooth pulled and I didn’t really eat much afterward and then suddenly I just came under the realization that I was transitioning to intermittent fasting. It became extremely unmotivating when I was dealing with the loss of family members so at first I did continue but then I went to comfort foods and found happiness from looking at the good moments that I had with them and saw the motivations of why I self-advocate and why I am so excited to be where I am. Afterwards in 2020, I reconnected with friends, saw the positives of what made me glad to be where I was, and then became back to my regular set of thinking about 2-3 weeks before lockdown.

Of course, I think the rest is pretty explanatory in my blog involving the GROW chart because I did have COVID, lost weight from sickness, and then almost repeated what I did in 2019 in 2020, except now it felt more worrying to my life. I wasn’t sick in 2019, I was sick then in 2020, and also as I mentioned in the blog, I was expecting the worst and I wasn’t sure of my outcome. 2021 comes and it was nearly rinse and repeat because the GROW model that I had in mind did drop and then suddenly the family comes up with this interesting game where I had to find an advantage to win it. Despite the fact that I lost that family activity, I was a bit more motivated when I saw that there were people that were rooting me on to continue doing what I was doing, and despite how odd the idea was, I just kept on doing it and moved along like I never would! 

So, this is where I think my perspective on understanding my environment really kicks in because, despite the fact I lost the game, I do find it a bit interesting that I have a tension of being in a competitive mood. So, I just continued to try to be in that more interesting mood, instead of that competitive mood to be healthy, and even tried my best to break barriers that I have never really done before. One of those barriers being the fact that I have a hard time eating cold red vegetables, so with that, I just had the thought of putting them in my smoothies and just used that as a barrier to break out of being a picking eater, or at least mask the fact that I am a picky eater. It was a pretty effective way to get into a new and healthier path of going about what I wanted to change about myself in the course of the 2021 year. So far, it was something that was super effective and even something that I would get into doing more because I did see the physical side of the health side play out very well. Even though I do have much more to work out more the food aspect of this, because I for one still find myself a picky eater, and I don’t think there’s going to be much that I can do to change, there are some things that mentally I don’t want to hop into the entire “right now” mentality because I do see that I really need to accept that I am being open for new challenges. 

Just to be fair, this all started off as a joke, and the reason why I want to state that this was a joke is that I just wanted to try out playing this one game on my Nintendo Switch called Ring Fit Adventure. Mainly I just didn’t feel like going outside as much as I wanted to in the midst of spring or in hot summer weather at the time. It wasn’t related to COVID or anything, I just stayed inside a lot and this was something that I thought that I was going to do to break barriers since exercising outside wasn’t really my thing, and I still don’t know why. So suddenly, when the family announced this competition thing, it did motivate me to alternate a bit more outside. So longer walks, ideal biking trips and even just having to go outside in my regular clothing instead of my workout clothing so I didn’t feel obligated to do any intense exercising or anything, and strangely enough…this method actually worked! The change eventually was that I wanted to find a center point in motivating myself to work out and then having those reasons why. Going back to the previous paragraph on barriers—I saw that I lost the competition and I was going to actually try and gain the weight back because, again, it was a joke; however, when I went out on another one of my walks and took a picture of my progress, there were so many compliments on the picture, that I just had to keep on moving forward and I had to make those changes. It’s like I didn’t have a problem with what I used to look like, but it’s that I didn’t want to look like that when I get older in age, so that was my main motivation. 

My other forms of fitness change this year were also the fact that my job, my group of friends, and even those who had the same set of goals that I had in mind just pushed me to move forward. With that it also has convinced me to also go on ahead to do the same either, it kind of made me wonder what I wanted to do moving on to being a more goal-orientated person in the future.

Social Media-Different variations of the spectrum

So, I feel as though that this is a very weak point for me because I do want to use my social media platforms to promote independence and my life story on what’s happening out there in the autism community, or rather mainly myself and how I can potentially put myself in those shoes since I am part of what’s happening in the autism community. Greatly enough, I am thankful for my job and everyone at my job at the City of Philadelphia (Department of Behavioral Health and disAbility Services-DBHIDS) for allowing me to open meetings and sharing what I know so far of myself every Thursday Afternoons (or mornings) where I would allow myself to open what I might have encountered as a CAPS and a self-advocate. Also, I have to go through all of Philadelphia which mentally now has been something that I have had a liking to enjoy and even that alone made me more accepting to change from how much of Philadelphia I claimed I knew. I am glad for it and can’t wait another year for when I do embark on more journeys of helping out the community in Philadelphia and being a self-advocate.

Also, another thing that did help me feel that sense of change is knowing that the format of the family-based program that my mother and I run—Spectrum Success 911. Even though we did this back in 2017 through the SEED Grant in Philadelphia, Spectrum Success 911 making a comeback was the nice fresh breath of air that I needed to make myself see that whatever I needed to fully understand myself. Our mantra is that “we are here for you” with the symbol of a firetruck representing urgency. The timing on this is very great to hear that because I do see that I may not be the person who understands what to do in that situation to help the families that need it, and to me, this was something that I needed to try and get out there more and much like my role as a CAPS to have a mental image to represent how this was going to help me in the long run.

Things like that have been a great opportunity for me to be more involved with what’s out there in the autism community online. Seeing how I can make that much of a difference or even make a small part or rather piece (referring to the puzzle pieces in the ASD logo/symbol). I am very appreciative that this did start off with Twitter and then shifted a bit over to Tik Tok and making my perspective being Black and, on the spectrum, I still want to keep it more general (with topics such as social norms, organization, eating habits or something like stimming) where I can just have more organic Q&A’s with my audience and seeing what can happen in things like large gatherings or just what other individuals could do for relaxation.

I didn’t want to go over any specifics on race and the spectrum because I wanted to be as neutrally involved as possible, but in settings like my job or even in the online community, it did make me want to peer in more about it. so like for example masking—this is one of the issues that I might see more around my neighborhood with individuals, families, friends and whoever the person on the spectrum might be dealing with. Especially on my end with those who are on the spectrum and the providing services out there. I recalled going to a meeting at my job and hearing that there is a low count for those on the spectrum for those who are POC. This basically made me think a bit more on how I could at least speak on that since I didn’t really find that much of an issue with the services I had growing up or at least how I could mention services and the changes of those services compared to what I had now.

It was points like those that made me want to go over and at least keep it general on how I feel about things like masking or describing to others why some may see others on the spectrum as a stigma, thus influencing it on themselves that their behaviors are not acceptable to others. I personally am glad for my progress, but I think expressing my successes can be a bit of barely reaching the surface if I don’t involve the struggles as well. That sense of balance there made me accept the change of just being neutral pushed my personal goal even further and even made me motivated to write out more detailed and somewhat longer blogs about how I have been making out with life so far.

Also, I know I have said it before, but I will say it again, my involvement in writing mg blogs here on #ASDNext, has really made me want to look back and see what more I want to focus on in the future because I personally have shared this page out to other individuals on the spectrum and they were motivated by it too. It was things like that made me want to continue writing blogs and make an impact to others this year, and more to come! The impact of my love for typing I would strangely think as more of a joke, but it’s like when you perceive the word “joke” what does that truly mean?

Do what you love

So, the best value of accepting a changed direction is knowing that you are going to be doing something that you are not familiar with, but if I said that everything that I did do was a “joke” then it would simply be entertaining more than a hardworking activity. However, I didn’t see that happening with my job as a CAPS because it is something that involves me sharing my lived experiences therefore it’s not as much of a “joke” when I realize that I have impacted someone’s family and let them know what’s happening in the ASD community.

The same could be said about the other things—the reason why I work out now might have started out as a “for fun” activity, but now it’s the importance of what I have in mind, and then the goal-orientated idea of me striving to be physically and mentally better when I get older will always motivate me to get better. I write about how much I enjoyed going outside in my previous blogs, but the fact that I just know that I often take advantage of what I do via video gaming, then I was going to make that my main level of focus and even alternate if I have to because this wasn’t something that I didn’t have in mind, but if I am not hurting myself then I could go the distance as long as I don’t do anything as wild as trying too hard to be someone else or act like someone else.

Which then goes back to myself being here with my blogs. If there’s one thing, I have made my blogs much longer than I usually have and I never found anything wrong with that. I just like doing that for 3 reasons: 

  1. To simply express myself in a more fluent manner
  2. To give out as much as I can about my perspective on the ASD community from point of view
  3. Because I love typing

Other than that, I can find where I state the fact that I love to joke because I like the idea of making a joke, accepting a joke, and laughing at it, but also at the same time maybe I can change that “Joke” to a “Hobby.”

What was learned and conclusion

Not saying that 2021 was the year where all of this was going to happen and then there would be so much in the levels of what’s changed and why those changes have happened, but the main thing is that I am glad that it did happen. This potentially began when we were all on lockdown and I just simply wanted to move outside more but just didn’t want to move outside because my mentality wasn’t prepped for me to do that. I guess it’s understood because most individuals on the spectrum aren’t really accepting of changing things in their lifestyle and neither was I.

Taking something as something as simple as the weather changing can be a great example of it because time moves forward every single second and it’s extremely painless when it happens, but it’s how you make manage of it. Like there was there one instance where I would always fancy myself wearing winter hats even during later spring to the summer, my grandmother was pretty bothered by that and wanted to remove it, but she just couldn’t so she just let me wear it regarding the fact that it was like 80 degrees out. I eventually started to understand how uncomfortable it was in the sweltering heat and I just started to take that hat off on my own accord.

The same thing for this year, I didn’t want to take that leap until the motivation pushed for me to do so, I did that on my own accord, not saying that this will be the year, or the next year would be the year, but I do want to try and understand that I can do it and push myself to be a better person mentally, physically, and the other forms of wellness as I strive to being a motivationally prepared person.

This now leads to the closing, my usual saying “take your time, and be yourself” I said this after a song from Common (Common Sense’s “Take it EZ”) where the song’s instrumental aesthetics is pretty relaxing. Since then I just catch myself stating the opening of the music video which was to “let’s calm down, for chrissake and take it easy!” which was either a stimming issue I had back in high school or just something that I just said a lot because I just didn’t want to be involved with anything and I just rather relax and enjoy everything a bit slowly at my own pace.

Overall, that’s just what I want to say to everyone else, that you are all talented in your own ways, and that you take control of what you want and how you want it. If it’s a change that you can aim for, just know that it’s not an immediate process, so just remember to be yourself, relax, and take your time. Eventually… the change will happen. Other than that, enjoy yourself and have a good one!