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.
I have never been a “get in the middle” type of person. As far back as I can remember, I have been more of the “hanging back, watching” type, only coming closer if I feel comfortable. Being around groups of people is draining even if I know them well. Family holidays would be tiring since there was so much going on and I couldn’t figure out how to fit in. I often felt clumsy, awkward and frustrated. My siblings often seem to see a need and fill it easily while I am still trying to be helpful but not get in the way.
In many situations, I find myself near the edges of the crowd without even trying to get there. I like being further from the center of the crowds since it’s easier to leave, less crowded and usually less noisy too. This especially is important to me when I go to public places and events since I can be easily overwhelmed and I have a hard time with crowded places. I have gone to free concerts and found the one way I can be comfortable is to stay as far back from the stage as possible. I also often use earplugs.
Interestingly enough, I can get closer if I’m with a friend I trust. I feel I can get closer to the event, and my best guess why is because I trust my friend to get me out quickly and safely if I need to leave. Nothing damages my trust more than having the person I’m with ignore or downplay my need to leave an uncomfortable situation, especially when that person is my ride and I can’t get home on my own. I then find myself much less likely to want to spend time with that person.
I’m much more successful when I know where I’m going, who’s going, approximate length of event, and what to expect. I try at the very least to have a conversation about our expectations as a group. We discuss meeting places and length of time we will be there before we leave.
Recently, I went to Bethlehem for the Irish fair with two of my friends and we had a meeting place chosen and we parked in the same parking lot. We all had cell phones to keep in touch in case we got separated. It was crazy busy and it was easy to get lost, but it was fun. I don’t think I will be doing that specific event again since there was lots of drinking, plus it was loud and I didn’t feel completely comfortable with the atmosphere of the event. I’m glad I knew my limits so I left before dark since I wasn’t comfortable driving in a new city around dark. I felt better being able to leave any time I wanted without bothering my friends. I know there are situations were it’s not possible to leave right away because it would be considered rude to leave early. In my experience, I have found this to be the exception rather than the rule.
Understanding that I’m a “Hanging Back” type of person and that I do better on the edge of the group has made it easier to try new things and go to new places. This self awareness doesn’t mean everything is easy and I still have to work on expanding the number of things I feel comfortable doing. I’m trying to be more vocal in stating what I want and talk about it with friends and family while in the planning stages.