Disclaimer: Staying home saves lives. Do what you need to do to get through this: for some people that will mean cleaning, for some that will mean creating, and for some that will mean sleeping, eating, or gaming. There’s no right way to do this, except to get it done the best way for you and the people around you. No judgement, no shame. Some people will come out of this speaking a new language and some divorced. There’s no ‘best way’ to do this. For now, if you’re home? You’re kicking ass!
For the last year or so, I’ve been giving presentations on what life will be like when autistics are in charge (Autistic World Domination in Singapore and When Autistics Rule the World in Budapest). I speak about the advantages of autism and the ways that our world will benefit.
Many of these benefits centre around changes that have suddenly become compulsory:
Daily life has slowed down. Less rush, chaos, and noise.
Routine is becoming more important. Not the clock-watching scheduled kind, the different rhythms of the day – energy, weather, and mealtimes.
Connecting in more conscious and meaningful ways (less physical, less automated: e.g. How are you fine thanks how are you I’m good.)
Purposeful and efficient outings. (We didn’t need to panic-buy at my place: I eat pretty selectively (*chocolate* *wedges* ahem) so I always have lots of the things I like in case the brand changes :))
Written communication. No instant, emotion-reading response necessary. You can answer emails in your own time, respond to social media if/when you want to. And guess what? You have unlimited hearts and Likes to give away!
The world is smaller, we care for strangers because there are no strangers really. This is a calmer, quieter, more conscious world. With a greater focus on what’s important, greater productivity, increased (non-physical) connection, and greater appreciation and empathy without judgment.
Definition of Autism:
“Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.”
Or, how about the still accurate but less-pathological, more empowering:
“Autistic individuals enjoy a selective social circle, intentional communication, strong routine and their favourite things (music, food, movies, textures, etc.)”
Autism is defined, diagnosed, and evaluated against neurotypical standards. We take for granted what “normal” is. If “normal” becomes social isolation, increased routine, and non-physical communication – who is now disabled?
For the first time, lots of people are being thrust into their non-preferred lifestyle. Think of it as epic opportunity:
– To evaluate what our world considers normal.
– To evaluate what makes you happy.
– To recreate your routine and your world. Keep what makes you happy, leave the rest back in ancient pre-Covid19 days.
– To reassess your priorities. Your work, your home, your relationships: what needs to change?
Try to enjoy the peace (or at least, try not to fight it). For many of us, being in our own bubble, our own time and space is a luxury, a way of life. We leave our comfort zones to socialise, to work, to access things that Normals control, because that’s where the world is. But who decides where the world is? History? The economy? The majority? Lots of autistics already work from home, don’t drive, have a (super) tight social circle, and enjoy the same things over (and over!) For us, lockdown is life and it’s beautiful.
You’ll never feel trapped if you remember that this is your choice. You are choosing to stay home and save lives. You could choose to go out, but you’re far too smart for that 🙂
Jolene is an autistic writer, speaker, and parent.
Since her 2018 TEDx Talk going public with her diagnosis, Jolene has been inspiring corporates, communities, and global giant IBM with her fresh and exciting perspective on autism.
Ultra-enthusiastic author and TEDx speaker Jolene Stockman is tangata whaitakiwatanga (autistic). This fast-talking, big thinking Kiwi is excited to empower autistics – and the neurotypicals who love them – with her vision of the world. Jolene lives in Aotearoa, New Zealand.