Autism & Change – Why Change is Hard for Me as an Autistic Person

Patreon members and YouTube channel members had access to this video on November 29, 2021. The video’s public release will be January 19, 2022.

Transcript

Hey humans Lyric here.

Uh, I have been dealing with a lot of change in my life recently, and as an Autistic Person, some of us can find change to be difficult; and I am one of those Autistic People who struggles a lot with change. So if you would like to know more about my experience with this, please stay tuned.

I fit the autism stereotype of being an Autistic Person who does not handle change well; and in that sense, I mean, I am someone who can have meltdowns and shutdowns, if a surprise change happens to me.

So my reaction to not handling change well is often apparent to other people and, it has been something that I have dealt with my entire life.

Even though I am a Buddhist, and so because of that, I’m very, um, aware of the importance and the necessity of change, and the fact that the changes can be good, is not lost on me.

 I- I have this love, hate relationship with change because I need change in a way, but I also want everything to stay exactly the same, and so I am constantly fighting myself on this.

Probably the most confusing thing to other people about this is that I struggle even dealing with. Good, “good” air quotes change, or change that I want, and change that I am making myself go through, is still difficult for me.

New situations, unfamiliar situations, are very difficult for me, even if they’re situations that I want to be in, and it takes me a lot of mental energy to put myself out there, in unfamiliar situations.

 Change tends to be one of those circumstances where there are suddenly a lot of unknowns. It removes me from the comfort of my routines, and knowing what comes next. Change is often something that is filled with surprises and the unknown.

 Even when I was a little kid, I was someone who didn’t handle surprises very well. Most kids would, I guess, be happy to get Christmas gifts, Christmas surprises; but for me, once the holiday the music starts, and the holiday started to kick off, I would dread all of the surprises, and the not knowing, and the Christmas gifts that were coming for months and weeks, if I knew people were going to give me things and I didn’t know what it would be.

Like, even now I’m like, “Please don’t give me things” like I don’t want to do the holiday stuff. Uh, but my mom would always just tell me what my birthday gifts, or my Christmas gifts were, because it would just make me so anxious to not know something and have a surprise coming. There’s a lot of reasons that change can be hard, but it, it triggers a lot of things in me, surprises and the unknown – breaking up my routines, because I am very much a person of routine.

I find a lot of comfort in knowing what’s happening, or knowing the routine. Um, it gives me something I can count on, and it helps kind of ground and center me to have a bit of predictability and understanding of what’s going on.

Uh, because a lot of times, especially around other people in situations, like, I don’t know what’s going on, and other people are confusing to me, but at least if I, I know my routine, and I I’ve got things down, I can have some sense of stability… because this world often destabilizes me, and I’m just searching for some kind of stability.

I mentioned briefly earlier, how my reaction to change can be noticeable to other people. A lot of times, in the past when I worked with other people, work would be a place where this would happen a lot, and I would have a very carefully planned out plan, front to end, and all of these steps to get there, and someone would come up and throw a metaphorical wrench into what I had been planning.

I, I’ve tried to explain this to people befor it is like, when I’ve got a plan, it’s taken me a while to visualize and piece all of the pieces together and line them up perfectly, as when I was a kid, I would have lined up my toys. I line up my plan all perfectly, right? I can see all the steps, and I know what’s coming next, and that gives me peace.

 Then someone comes around and starts moving around blocks, and it feels very much to me like you have taken an Etch-a-Sketch and my plan was so neatly outlined in this Etch-a-Sketch, and you’ve shaking it all up and, taken away all of my stability, and all of a sudden I am completely overwhelmed, because I don’t even know where to start anymore, because everything I had visualized is now gone.

It takes me awhile to recover from that, and even if I don’t express myself on the outside, like on the inside, a lot of times I’m just like, “Ugh” spiraling and stuck, trying not to let someone know how upset I am that they’ve done this to me, because a lot of times people don’t mean to do this, and they have no idea what they’ve done.

They have no idea… and if I lash out at them, especially in a workplace, well, this, this never works out well for me. So I, and I turned all that frustration inward, really, uh, on myself… which is less comfortable for me, than if I were to just let it out, but letting it out often would have greater consequences in the long run, so I’ve learned to kind of shut down, and implode on myself.

Another way that my inability to deal with change can “be an inconvenience” air quotes on other people, because this is, generally, when they talk about Autistic People, is how much we inconvenience others around us, and something that other people find inconvenient, or confusing, or perplexing about me is my difficulty shifting tasks. Shifting from one task to another task – shifting gears.

My gearbox is a bit sticky. Uh, it takes, it takes time. I get, you know, like a freight train, all the momentum going in one direction, and I’m in this one type of task, and all of a sudden, you need me to switch to something completely different. My brain doesn’t instantly transition to something different. I’ve got a bit of a lag time, as I transitioned into doing different things.

Like with work in the morning, I do specific types of tasks and a big chunk of time. Then I go take a break so I can shift my brain, and mentally prepare to do something that’s a different kind of task, and then I do all of those tasks that are that type of task.

But in workplaces I’ve had jobs where employers expect me to be able to switch back and forth between a bunch of things that are no way related, constantly: “multitasking”, uh, answering phones, writing a report, and entering data, and being disrupted constantly, uh, while doing these things, and switching, switching, switching.

That doesn’t work well for me at all. There may, there may be some people who can do that, but I suspect a lot of people don’t do well with multitasking, but as someone who is Autistic, and also has ADHD, that type of a job, where I’m expected to constantly be just splitting my brain in all of these different directions is very, very, stressful to me, to the point like stressful, where I, I will get sick from the stress of it, and it will exacerbate my struggles with being able to hold and focus my attention.

With ADHD we’ve got attention; it’s just difficult to put it where we need to put it, and being able to have like real focused time to do things, is essential for me to be able to do things, uh, and there are just some situations where people are not very forgiving of that need, and they don’t understand how much being put into that situation, where I’m constantly being asked to split my attention, more than my attention is already trying to split itself, naturally, it can be really harmful to my health, and my mental health, and how that can make things harder for me in many areas of my life, because it just messes with my brain; having to constantly like change tasks really quickly. So that’s another change, that’s hard for me as a NeuroDivergent person outside of just, uh, the Autism piece.

Thanks to everyone for sticking around for the entire video. If you stuck around until the end, and you liked this video, don’t forget to hit that like button – hit the thumbs up and let me know that this was helpful for you.

If you think it might be help full for someone else too, go ahead and hit that share, so that hopefully we can reach more people together.

I cannot do it without the help of the viewers like you, whether you are sharing, liking, commenting, giving your video suggestions, or subscribing monetarily on YouTube, Facebook, or Patreon, I’m grateful for each and every one of you. I, I couldn’t do it without you, I mean that with the bottom of my heart. Thank you all so much.

Those are just some of my personal experiences dealing with change as an Autistic Person who does, in fact, struggle to handle change.

I would love to hear other perspectives of other Autistic and NeuroDivergent people: if you struggle to deal with change, or do you love change and seek out the novelty of it?

Depending on your NeuroType, your experience of change can be very different than mine; even other Autistic People.

Do you do like change or how do you deal with change to make it easier, if you struggle with it, like I do?

Let’s keep this conversation going, and remember that Autistic People and NeuroDivergent people are not a monolith, even people with the same two diagnoses or NeuroType, can have very different experiences of life and the world around them.

I will talk to you all next week.

Bye.

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With gratitude, Lyric

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