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Coping with change in a time of uncertainty

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Recent events have shown us how life as we know it can change seemingly overnight.  We are developing a better understanding and appreciation for the stress this causes us as we adjust to working remotely, being laid off or with increasing work demands.  The stress we feel now may be something that is a regularly experienced by those living with ASD.

And, when we think about what helps us to better cope with these changes, we might recognize that many of these approaches recommended for those with ASD – we can now better understand the “why” behind them.

These could include:

  • establishing a regular sleep schedule – regular bedtimes and times for getting up and dressed for the day
  • establishing regular meal and snack times – review your eating habits to ensure good nutrition and a balanced diet
  • have a regular work schedule (and maintain contact with work colleagues and supervisors)
  • maintain regular contact with relatives and friends (using virtual communication tools as needed available)
  • incorporating regular exercise into your routine – if indoors, have a space where you can stretch and do some light strength training – use online tools for setting up an exercise routine and monitoring your progress.
  • work with your supervisor and colleagues to determine the parameters of how you will communicate with each other, expected response times, how often and when you can message with each other.

It is important to monitor your stress level and get help if and when needed to manage it.  Talk to a trusted relative or friend who may be able to help – at least in providing a sympathetic ear.

So now that we have a better idea of what life may feel like for those with ASD when there is not a global pandemic creating so much unease and impacting our lives on many different levels, imagine the scope of that impact when you already live with a baseline of anxiety and resistance to change.  On the one hand, those with ASD have developed tools over the course of their lives to help them to cope with anxiety, but on the other hand, the routine they have grown accustomed to has now changed dramatically.

They may need more time to adjust to these changes than you expect, and you may have to more closely monitor their stress levels, increase time spent exercising (walking, running, bike riding, etc.) and increase their access to more predictable activities – puzzles, games, and regularly scheduled meals and sleep.

Over time, we can learn from each other to determine what works best for each of us.  Keep in mind that this pandemic is not permanent but does require a lot of our energy and focus for the next few weeks and months.  We will get through this and assume a new normal, with a greater appreciation for each other.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the changes the pandemic has brought to your life, there are many online tools and helplines that are available including the recently introduced “Be Well” initiative: https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/bewell/index.html as well as those resources found at: https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/mh/crisis.html/

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