The easiest and simplest advice is one that goes any time you’re pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is to take it one step at a time. Slow steps and small steps are okay, as long as you are making consistent progress towards your goal. For some of us, making plans and engaging in social situations is hard, and therefore easy to push away and procrastinate. The past year and a half made avoiding these situations easy, necessary even, and once you’re in that rut, it can be even harder to break back out. To make plans with friends, to go to a crowded area, to hear the loud noises of people at a park, to have to ask a teacher in person for help. Or having to attend large family gatherings on holidays and answer the same awakened questions over and over. For some, not having to wear a mask is amazing, the sensory issues associated with it gone. For others, it became a habit, and not wearing one in a store makes you feel like everyone’s eyes are on you. Maybe you haven’t even been to a store, opting to have parents shop during this time or just not leaving home much at all.
Not everyone will struggle with the change and reopening at all, but it is important to recognize when change is affecting you. Whether you’re autisic or anxious or just a neurotypical person, things changing are not the easiest to cope with. It’s new, it’s unsure, it’s stressful. A shake up of schedules and habits and rituals. It is important to know your emotions stirred up by a changing environment are valid. That it can take some time to get used to, but that whatever change will become the “normal.” This next few months will only increase the changes in policy to return back to 2019 (in essence), and no one will blame you for taking it slow. But it is exciting. Hope to see everyone’s faces in the flesh in social groups again!
Written by Katy Evans