Would it be weird if I said that this COVID-19 pandemic has made my life easier?
Aside from the tiring marathon of working for the past (checks calendar) eighteen(!) days, I’d say my autistic routines have been warped, but they’ve not gotten worse.
I was reading The Ringer the other day, and this one quote jumped at me:
(W)ith no sports, no access to bars and restaurants and movie theaters, and limited interactions with other humans, millions of people are already incredibly bored.
That sound a lot like my life anyway. What’s the issue?
Growing up autistic and discovering more about it later on, I got accustomed to the lack of group entertainments, interactions with other humans, and everything else that people needed to stave off boredom.
I’d venture to say that, in some ways, this new era isn’t challenging us autistic people the same way it is for you.
We’re mostly comfortable in our own safe havens. We don’t have to negotiate the awkwardness of social touchpoints. Or touch! The pre-planning that goes into “talking and acting like a normal person” — totally off my plate. People obligations: gone.
I’m not bored with this. Tired, sure, but not bored.
This is the kind of challenge I was made for.
“Yeah, H2, that’s great, but I’m not autistic. I’ve streamed the entire Netflix catalog and crossed all the animals in Animal Crossing. I’m going crazy here.”
Our heroes in healthcare and essential business aside, I can imagine this might be tough on extroverts, neurotypical introverts, or most others trying to stave off this more isolated, temporary reality.
This has always been more of my autistic reality-reality, so let me share things I embraced then and still do now:
Create. If you’ve got this much time to burn, you can only do so much consuming. My outlet was and has been writing; if I had more time, I would then write more. In my younger autistic days, I wasn’t cool enough to know what was “cool” from a taste standpoint. Not much has changed there. But it was cool to create.
Sharpen a skill. I didn’t have a life, social or otherwise, during my year of teaching elementary school. So I put my routine-driven nature into learning how to juggle. And I’m still good enough at it to wow kids at a party and double as an awkward clown. Same with cooking. Nowadays I try recipes or try making the same thing over until I’m eggscelent at it.
Develop expertise. Surely there are topics you love. If you’re saddled with downtime, pull a page out of Hunter’s autistic hyper-focus playbook and learn even more about something you enjoy.
I read another great quote: “If you can’t go outside, go inside.“
The life autistic has been like that in many ways.
Aside from the actual, literal gravity of this situation for many, these are challenging times.
For us autistic people, there are ways we were made for this challenge.