The last few months have been overwhelming, to say the least. On a personal level, it feels like my life has become almost unrecognisable from what it used to be. Okay, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but it has to be admitted, life has changed immensely over the past 14 weeks. And to be quite frank, it’s starting to become clear that life post-COVID is going to be different too, and I’ve got some concerns. Having Autism before COVID arrived here was already something of a challenge. But what will having Autism be like now?
I never liked uncertainty, it’s almost a trademark characteristic of Autism, but now nobody can give me any answers about anything beyond 3 weeks from now. Not knowing what to expect stresses me out, and we don’t even know how much longer the uncertainty will remain. I’m hearing a lot of “Based on current public health guidelines we expect…” and “we’ll know more closer to the time….”, but honestly, that’s of little comfort.
What about face coverings? What happens if my sensory system can’t handle having something constantly over my nose and mouth? Will I have to stay at home, and miss out because I can’t handle it? Or what if I can handle it for short bursts of time, but wearing them for longer periods becomes physically impossible for me? Will I get into trouble? Will I be excluded? Also, if everyone else is wearing face coverings, how will I be able to tell what they’re feeling? I already struggle to understand people’s facial expressions, how I am supposed to understand facial expressions if I can’t see half of people’s faces?
I cling to rules and I find comfort in them. Knowing to stay 2 meters away from others, in a weird way, makes me feel better. But just like that, when other people don’t follow the rules, it heightens my anxiety and makes me feel worse. What if other people aren’t social distancing? What if I’m the only one wearing a mask? My mind is filled with all of the worst “what ifs”, and it’s a challenge to stay in control of my own brain.
Maybe you’re feeling the same way as I am, in which case I hope you find a little comfort in knowing that someone else feels it too. However it’s important to remember, you’re not in this alone. We will get through this, we will adapt and we will both survive this and eventually start thriving again. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people if and when you need support, be it a friend, a parent, a counsellor or another trusted adult. Things will be okay again.