Autism, Coronavirus and Me


Coronavirus (Covid-19) has led to a big change in everyday life for us all.

For many autistic people dealing with so many changes at this time can be particularly difficult and worrying.

Our regular BBC Sesh contributor, Daniel Morgan Jones, shares his experience of how the pandemic is impacting his life at the moment and his top tips for dealing with the changes…

Daniel Morgan Jones

Dan is 33 and from Anglesey. He has Asperger’s syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and dyslexia.

He’s an avid YouTuber, influencer, public speaker and author. Dan (known as The Aspie World by his followers) creates and shares content for his 100,000 plus YouTube subscribers and his videos cover a range of tips and tricks for living with an autism diagnosis.

What is autism?

The NHS says, 'being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people. Autistic people may find it hard to communicate with other people, find it hard to understand how other people think or feel and take longer to process information.'

Dan admits that 'a lot of my life suddenly made sense' after his autism diagnosis at the age of 26.

Dan’s top tips

Dan knows how difficult it can be for autistic people to navigate through certain situations.

 

Forget everything else that’s going on, I’m thinking when I’m having my cereal 'I’m worried about this milk'. It’s stuff like this that people don’t understand.

He says, 'people on the spectrum already feel lonely. You throw self-isolation into the mix and you’re increasing that. School, college and work maybe their only chance to socialise. It’s definitely going to impact on the mental health of us massively.'

So, he’s eager to help others and will be live streaming on his YouTube channel at 4pm every day and welcoming tweets and DMs about how to cope during this difficult time.

Here’s a glimpse of Dan’s experience and some of the advice he has to share…

Make a daily routine
I always have an extra something, because I know that I have a stock rotation and that’s my routine.

I like to have the same almond milk, but the almond milk that I wanted was completely out of stock everywhere. So, I had to get a substitute almond milk and I’ve never had that in my daily routine - I’m worried about that.

Forget everything else that’s going on, I’m thinking when I’m having my cereal 'I’m worried about this milk'. It’s stuff like this that people don’t understand.

I buy four cartons of milk every Monday because my life runs around this schedule, but the whole thing's just turning on its head. It feels like you’re almost detaching away from reality because whatever you know as stable and normal is completely upside down.

I found myself having these short bursts of panic, like checking the news and worrying about these things. I have calculated what we need per person in the house to last a certain amount of time.

I had to tell myself that 'OK my routine may be disrupted but I’ll have to make a new one'. I've introduced new times for exercising and added in more talk time with my girlfriend, so I don’t go too stir crazy. I've made sure that we do the things that we love, like watching something funny.

So, my advice is to sit down a create a routine that you’re happy with. We know things are going to change and change is difficult for people on the spectrum. Make two or three plans, don’t just have one plan because you’re going to be stuck if the first one fails.

Keep in contact with your loved ones
I’ve been sending my friends voice notes. Do reach out via phone or video calls to your friends and family when you’re feeling down. Don’t be afraid because they will value you doing this. Your friends and family are still there and they’re still important.

Watch fun things
People on the autism spectrum will obsess over something, especially if it’s apparent in that moment in time. They’re watching the news about coronavirus and obsessing.

But the tip I’ve got: in your routine, make time to watch something that’s funny so it pulls you away from the negativity. Set time aside every day to make sure you laugh at something because laughing feeds the soul.

Exercise
Keeping active keeps your mental health in a good shape. If you’re allowed and it’s safe for you to go out and exercise, then go for a run or a walk. But if you’re not, do some indoor exercise. It’s really good for your mental health.

Be organised
I get these short bursts of panic where I think 'what happens when we run out of toilet roll?'. It sounds silly but I like to have things prepared way ahead of schedule.

We definitely vibe off organisation. The problem we’ve got in a situation like this is people will not really be taking care of the organisation in their homes.

So, we need to keep calm, clean and tidy, because a clean and tidy room is a clean and tidy mind. It’ll help you categorise things in a way that seems more comfortable.

You can watch more of Dan's TIPS For Autism And LockDown on his YouTube channel.

 

 

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