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Dealing With Busy Places as a Person on the Autism Spectrum

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Busy places can bring about a lot of different issues for me. In a lot of ways, they can bring a lot of stress and can also be quite tiring. It is also yet another thing that has to be dealt with, and although I will never be able to deal with busy areas perfectly, there are a lot of different things I can do to make things easier.

The main things that can bother me when in a busy place are the numbers of people around, a lot of noise, a lot of different things to look at and also a lack of places to go that are out of the way for a break. If I find myself in a situation like this, the chances are I cannot cope for too long until I have to go home, or at least leave the busy area in search of somewhere quieter. This really only applies to any time I am attending a big event, and I do not go to many of these. A busy event is an extreme example; stress can also appear in every day situations as well. The ones I find most difficult are busy streets, corridors and stairs that echo, large open plan rooms such as libraries or cafeterias, traffic and anywhere playing loud music. It may appear, then, that I am quite limited in all the different things I can do throughout the day. This is not the case.


There are a lot of different things that can be done to make everyday situations a lot easier.

One thing I like to do is go for a short walk. This is something I do both when I am out for work purposes to break up the day, and also on any days off I may have. This is one of the ways I can take some time to process all the different things that have gone on thorough the day or even though the week. When I go for a walk, a lot of the time it is to the same places over and over again. The first time I tried it was quite difficult, but eventually I establish these newly discovered quiet areas as places to relax. It is quite rare for me to go off-track and actually walk anywhere different, but every now and then I may challenge myself to go somewhere else, or even go to a shop and buy a snack or something like that. It all depends on how difficult the day has been. If it has been quite an easy day, it may be possible to challenge myself. Going for a walk is not only something I do to get away for a short while, but also something I do to improve my ability to do everyday tasks.

The main way I cope with all the different things I find difficult is to moderate how often I have to deal with them. I can only manage so much, so I like to have different things in place to make sure I have an escape route. It is still something that imposes a lot of limitations on the way I live. When I do go out, it is often to do nothing in particular, and it is only within an area I am familiar with. One thing that helps sometimes is having a real purpose. I find that I endure going out for work quite well. This is both because of the routine I have built up, and also because I have a good reason to be out and that I would be letting myself and others down if I didn’t. That can act as a good motivator that can override any anxiety I may have about what is going on. It does not mean it goes away, though, because there are still times when I need to get away and this is where I would go off for a walk to find somewhere quiet.

This is never really going to go away. As much as I may try an number of different things to improve my ability to get out and do things, there is always going to be an issue. The main aim of all this is to get used to a more independent way of living. It is really quite basic and straightforward, but it is necessary. One other thing I also do to deal with busy situations is take time off at home. This is something I usually do after a particularly busy day. It usually involves spending time on my own, listening to the radio, reading or perhaps trying to cook. In a lot of ways it could seem antisocial; on a day like that I will not usually speak to anyone very much, even if there are other people in the house. But sometimes it is necessary just to go though what has happened the day before. If I have had a busy day, one thing I have learned is that I need some time to go through it all. This is especially the case if I have tried talking to people through the day, particularly if it was someone I would not typically talk to.

So there are a lot of different issues that appear when going out, either for leisure, or to work and shop, and there are a lot of different things I do to deal with these things. This is really just an overview of what is necessary sometimes. I like to have ways out when things are difficult to process.

I think I have made some good progress in that I now go out for walks on my own quite often, even if it is to the same places every time. I also thought it was worth explaining some of the importance of time off. I like to cut myself off from everything sometimes and focus completely on clearing my mind. The hope of sharing is that perhaps people relate to this in some way.

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Thinkstock image by Digital Vision

Originally published: June 30, 2017
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