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Managing My Quarantine Routine as an Adult on the Autism Spectrum

Coping with quarantine due to the coronavirus, the new-to humans virus that causes respiratory infection and can lead to serious or fatal health complications, has been challenging for just about everyone. In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s hard to figure out ways to deal with the new lifestyle of sheltering in place or going out to do essential work. As someone on the autism spectrum, I struggled with finding any form of a regular routine, which is important to me.

At first, I tried to keep things the same. I’d schedule my hours to work at home for the same times I’d usually be in the office, or I’d have Zoom meetings with my autism services set up for the typical times. When I couldn’t manage these tasks, I tried reading books to children online, going on walks and texting friends. I would often feel frustrated, stressed and just exhausted from trying to do everyday activities, and nothing was helping me to cope.

After about a week of my old routine almost completely falling apart, I began to realize something. My old routine wouldn’t work. It was meant for an old lifestyle which was completely different from what I was currently experiencing. For the first time in several days, I felt a sense of relief. I don’t have to stick to that old routine. In fact, I needed a completely new one.

Of course, some of the elements of my routine were still there. I would still practice self-care, maintain my apartment (or at least attempt to), get some work done (though it may be from home), and even have my autism services (through Zoom). These things just didn’t have to be at exactly the same time as they were before. If I could be a bit flexible, others would be also.

I found new elements to add to my routine as well. After a week of reading children’s books online, I started sewing face masks. Soon, the need for this became so great that I had to stop reading the books and dedicate my time to masks. I also watch meteorologist Cecily Tynan do her live Facebook videos where she goes over the 7-day forecast and then answers questions from the comments. I tune into live broadcast specials where many different musicians perform to help with raising money for relief efforts.

I think it’s important to remember that life has changed, but it’s not just mine. Everyone is in a similar boat. Yet, with the live videos and Zoom meetings, I feel connected to others, and I feel hopeful that we will all get through this. We just need to stick together — while social distancing!

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Getty image by Art Besouro.