Lockdown: Surviving like an Autistic

At the start of this lockdown I kept writing in a journal to keep my activities in check and see what I was doing. As an autistic being in social isolation is second nature to me. Many of fellow autistics across the world are known for not interacting with people well enough and they indulge in their interests. I know how to stay productive in an isolated and remote environment and I hope that people will see this as an example that autistics are a very useful and capable worker.

The way I work and indulge in activities in my home often without company is not a negative thing. I can cope with the loneliness in a very capable way. I find being without company is good for my self esteem and ability to think and make my life whole. One example of this is I can speak aloud to myself, which enhances my concentration in a task. With no one around me I can speak my thoughts aloud without caring about what anyone thinks. It’s a habit that’s weird amongst neurotypicals and crowded areas but by myself its better to think like this.

Coping with the solitude can be difficult but autistic people find it stimulating. The reason we need to be on our own is because we need a mental recharge every so often. Autism is a part of what we are and it affects our brain’s ability to take in the physical aspects of the world. One notable thing about autistics is that they are prone to heightened levels of sensitivity to light and sound. Too much exposure to it can make you suffer from anxiety, worry and stress. This leads to burnout.

Being indoors is necessary for us to recharge ourselves. Here are some ways in which you can do this for your own health. Find a comfortable spot for yourself free from distractions like your bed or a sofa. Draw the curtains closed if you have to and start meditating. I use meditation to soothe my nerves and deal with stress. It helps to rid that negative drowning noise in my head that interferes with my imagination. It reduces the pressure and makes me at ease with my surroundings.

But not all social isolation activities are within four walls, there comes a time when you need to be out in the fresh air. Like many people on the autism spectrum I am a visual thinker and nature can be a good stimuli for my senses. The fresh air and the scent of flowers and trees can be good for reinvigorating my energy. The sight of a flower and it’s aroma can be a good natural remedy for boosting my positive energy.

The closest thing I have to venturing outside at the moment is my own garden. During the lockdown we decided to use the time productively by doing a lot of DIY inside and outside the house. I painted the fences, cleared out the garage and made the garden a lot more pleasant to reside in. This is where being in lockdown can be a good time to enhance your mental health. You don’t just exercise it, you build it to accommodate your own needs.

Social isolation is a good time to get all your creative juices flowing. One famous English scientist used his time in isolation from an epidemic to make great strides in physics. Isaac Newton worked productively in isolation during the time of the great plague in 1665 on his study of physics. After he got his degree Trinity College closed and Newton had to retreat into a safe place where he could work out of Cambridge in the countryside. During this time he studied the properties of light, invented calculus and wrote his three laws of gravity. Two years later once the plague had passed Newton returned to Cambridge once the university had opened and he published all his works.

TV and internet media is not the only activity to indulge in during isolation for autistics. Most of us actually get involved in physically and recreational activities. I have been spending my time making the most of my home based role by reading and researching for my projects to promote trade and investment in scientific enterprises. One idea that just came up a few days ago was learning from African countries how to deal with a pandemic and seek out herbs and minerals for use in developing a cure for the Coronavirus. African nations have been struck by several viruses and diseases in the past like the Ebola outbreak in 2014. A disease control force was quickly set up just after that broke out and they managed to contain that very well until eventually it was eliminated.

Autistics can achieve so much that they have set an example to the world in lockdown that being in isolation can make you a very effective worker. The stuff I have achieved has come from a lot of useful resources that I have accumulated over the years. I have access to the internet but aside from watching stuff on demand from You Tube and Amazon Prime I have been reading eBooks and news reports that I can incorporate into ideas that I have. At the moment I have got a new book idea and I have been shopping on Amazon for new material to inspire me and give me references to put into the book.

The survival tactics of the neurodiversity world can be of great value to the neurotypical world. I am very self-sufficient and I could learn to live off the land if necessary. It’s just about the same as being a lone astronaut on the surface of a planet with a self sustaining habitat all to himself.

Recently I finished re-reading an old book I have called The Geek Manifesto. It’s about the value and importance of science in modern society and there were some chapters that taught me about how to see past the negative drama that the news channels are constantly going on about. If you are feeling paranoid or stressed by the fear of the Covid-19 affecting you then don’t bother with the news. They are too busy sensationalising the deaths and the chaos from the pandemic. Only 10% of their coverage is focusing on the work that the scientists and doctors are doing to find a cure and that is really unhelpful.

We must show by example that we can live through this turbulent time. In a hundred years time people will look back on this moment as a period when we survived a mass pandemic and seek inspiration on how to cope with another one. Just in the same way the we are looking at the stories of the Spanish Flu of 1918 when over 50 million people died and a quarter of the world’s population was infected. Today we have so many varieties of medicine and technology at our disposal we can survive this outbreak. So stop dwelling on the negatives.

Be constructive and creative and then you will be more resilient than you’ve ever been. Many autistics that live for years in isolation have low life expectancies because society ignores them. I’ve managed to survive because I learnt how to be resilient and make my life worth living.

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