Autism makes go a problem. Here’s how I learned to manage

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My sweetheart and I were in awe of Bologna’s grand colonnades and special rust-red masonry as we wandered hand-in-hand through the city’s historic streets. It was our first trip up. We wanted to find a way to balance our distinct architectural and historical objectives with the clear. Bologna and Bologna were ideal partners. We admired the impressive Baroque inside of the Church of Santa Maria della Vita, which was richly decorated with colorful artworks and stone sculptures. We took a small red and blue express train from Santuario la Madonna di San Luca to the Basilica di San Petronio for sweeping area views, and we climbed the ring tower to the top of the church. However, after one especially long, hot day on our feet and with our stomachs clamoring for food, my feelings started to change. As we fought over where to take, my fury rose as the sun set. In a city nicknamed La Grassa(“the fat one” ), we weren’t lacking in options; in reality, it was the large number of well-reviewed restaurant that was overwhelming. View picture in fullscreenEventually we decided on pie, and my partner eagerly led us through sun-dappled streets, seeking out a small hole-in-the-wall position with brilliant reviews on Google. Looking back today, I’m afraid of my emotion once we arrived. Instead of eagerly tucking into the steaming, cheese-drenched taste before me, I burst into tears, refusing to purchase. And why? Because they were portions. In my mind, getting pie meant that we’d be presented with a full pie. The notion of grabbing a loaf or two seemed horrifyingly inappropriate. It really felt to me, in that instant, like I was being asked to do the unthinkable. Instead, we needed to find a typical restaurant and order the appropriate type of pizza. My boyfriend is seen standing opposite me at the desk, looking as though he had scarcely survived the ferocity of the Visigoths during the sack of Rome, as I look through the photos from that journey for this article. This piece of my life story, along with many others like it, suddenly began to make sense three years later, when I was diagnosed with autism in spring 2020. Being autistic makes life difficult in so many small ways that most people ca n’t see. Autism sufferers frequently deal with tactile, sociable, and communication issues that vary in each of us. As a child, for example, I could n’t endure the contact of lawn on my skin. When we went camping, my parents could secure that I would n’t wander around on a blanket by our tent. The same holds true for dust: putting me down to construct a tower on the beach only sounded banshee-like until someone came up to grab me. When I was older, I preferred to stay by the camp and publish my books over the ominous chaos of the campground park. When faced with the unanticipated, I’ve even often found it challenging. That could be anyone, from a last-minute change of plans to someone just not working out the way I had imagined it to. For those of us who are predisposed to visual overload, the constantly occupied streets can be a terrifying experience. Asking you to think that the entire world has climbed into your stomach is the best way to explain how I feel about this feeling. It therefore sits there, big and quiet and bright, thrumming with power, too little energy, more than any one individual could hold within themselves. And still, that ’s what’s expected of us, day in, day out. Thanks to the increase of lived experience shared on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, cultural awareness of how disabled people connect with open spaces has increased over the past few years. When I was first diagnosed, the active autistic creator communities online provided a lifeline, giving both insights into my own behavior and hints for coping strategies. Implementations like the sunflower lanyard project are also having a significant impact on how train station staff, airport staff, bus terminal staff, and other places are trained to make these locations more accessible to people with hidden disabilities. I’ve discovered that many of my challenges can be overcome with the help and planning of those around me. I’ve been learning how to adjust my holiday plans to fit my needs after much trial and error over the past four years. I now have a self-made kit for mitigating sensory overwhelm that I take with me whenever I travel: sunglasses, noise-isolating earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones, a fidget toy or two and a safe food to snack on ( a favourite cereal bar, for example ). I used these items in the past to prevent meltdowns, but I can now’t imagine going anywhere without them. The process of writing my book, The Autistic Guide to Adventure, has provided many useful insights too. The book suggests how to approach them from a variety of different outdoor activities from a sensory, social, and communication perspective in order to introduce young autistic readers to a variety of different outdoor activities. Take kayaking, for instance, a popular holiday activity in the UK thanks to our miles upon miles of public waterways and easily accessible coastline. I have been kayaking since I was a young child on family vacations. I had never considered giving myself extra time to adjust to using a new boat in a new location, adjusting to the feel of a buoyancy aid, or properly holding the paddle before I realized I was autistic. Even something as straightforward as allowing someone with autism to try that on dry land before the kayak even gets close to the water can really affect how comfortable and assured they may be about trying this new activity. If you let them know in advance, the majority of activity providers will understand and be happy to help with this. Use walking poles for all types of hiking, including those on mountains, and bring an inflatable for wild swimming as other simple adaptations to recreational activities are included. These aid in maintaining balance, which many autistic people find challenging because they have trouble regulating their vestibular system. There will never be a single trip or destination that is ideal for everyone with autism because our individual strengths, struggles, and support needs are so different. However, if we each make a plan ahead and decide what to do or where to go based on our individual social preferences, communication preferences, and sensory sensitivities, each trip has the potential to be ideal for us. Most recently, my boyfriend and I took a much-anticipated trip to the Arctic Circle, visiting Tromsø. There’s a key difference between this holiday and our stay in Bologna five years earlier: the weather. Autistic people are known to have strong preferences for temperature, and in my case, I always prefer cold over hot. That’s why Troms ø in December was a sensory dream for me. When plunged into polar night, the light was only briefly brighter than a muted lilac haze for a short while, around midday. The temperature never reached zero. the snow lay piled in marshmallow-soft heaps along pavements and roadsides. It was perfect, and it was as far away as Bologna’s lively streets and humid air could get. View image in fullscreenAlways from previous experience, we had a clear idea of where we wanted to eat on the trip. We enjoyed Plse, a hotdog stand in a sunshine-yellow kiosk that dates back to 1911, and several happy mealtimes huddled around the fire pit at Raketten Bar. Although it’s not something I’ve ever thought about including animals in my travel plans, autism people frequently prefer the company of other humans to other people. In Tromsø, we ended up spending three out of our five days on activities involving animals: huskies, whales and reindeer. It was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions we could have made. In photos from the day we went husky sledding, I can feel the joy of being lost in a frenzied pack of new canine friends. Given that travel is something I treasure, it ’s a relief to realise that my ability to do it is not limited by being neurodivergent. I sincerely believe that because of the fact that my brain is a different wavelength, some of my numerous travel experiences have been improved and will continue to be enhanced. The lavender-lit play on the snow-capped mountains that surround Troms can still be seen when I close my eyes. I was instantly transported back to a place that felt like home to my soul, unhurriedly transported back to where I was. Jessica Kingsley published The Autistic Guide to Adventure by Allie Mason for$ 14. 99 ). To support the Guardian and Observer, buy a copyat guardianbookshop. com. Delivery fees may apply.