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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide

ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.

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Perfectly Imperfect Families

By Out-of-Sync Woman

It would be wonderful if there was such a thing as the perfect family. The myth is that somebody, somewhere, has a perfect family and that person has no problems or, very simple, easily solvable problems. We see this myth in advertisements, television shows and magazines because it’s a common wish that everyone has for their family. Families are frustrating, complicated parts of most people’s lives. Making families work takes much effort from everyone, regardless of how functional the family is. Family is an important, if crazy part of my life.

Speaking of crazy, my family members often do things that make me feel crazy. I love my family but I don’t always like the way my siblings or parents act or the way they interact with me. I have to admit that the way my Autism shapes my view of the world makes it harder for my family members to understand me, which seems ironic as they’ve known since we were kids that I’ve had this diagnosis. My Autism changes the way I see, hear, think, and move in the world compared to most other people. I would like to spend time with my siblings and their children, but if I spend too much time with them, I feel emotionally and physically drained, which leads me to a very negative place. It takes more energy for me to be with them, and I try so hard to be involved with family activities that I often forget my own limitations and bypass them, much to my detriment.It’s incredibly hard to have an invisible disability and some of my family members are just starting to understand me. I feel like I’m constantly under a microscope and my own quirks and differences are considered flaws. It appears that some family members are trying to make it easier for me to be part of the family. Unfortunately not all family members understand, or are able to see that I’m not trying to make things harder. I’m really trying my best to not cause any complications. Due to their own difficulties and limitations, it’s oftentimes difficult for them to understand anyone else’s limitations and needs.

There is another kind of family that you personally create by making close friends. This family is often more understanding of me than my biological siblings and parents are. I think that is in large part because I choose them and there isn’t as much conflict as when you grow up with someone. I think it’s especially important to create a family of friends when you are an adult. I’m closer and more honest with my friends and it helps to have friends who understand how difficult life can be. It is important to have both kinds of family in my life for good mental health.

In summary, during the upcoming holidays that often include family get-togethers, remember to take care of yourself and use what coping strategies work for you and practice using them ahead of time. Coping strategies that sometimes work for me include: spending time with my closest family member, limiting my time for each get-together, arriving well-rested, using positive self-talk, and if all else fails, politely excusing myself from the get-together and escaping in my “get-away vehicle!” Remember this: just like pumpkin spice lattes, holiday get-togethers with the family are “limited time only!” Also, I’m sure everyone else is secretly relieved that the holidays are over. Try to enjoy the holidays and your family, as the holidays only come once a year.