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How My Autism Affects These 5 Everyday Things

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I love being autistic. But I’ll be honest, there is some stuff that I don’t like about being autistic, and that’s OK. It’s the little everyday things I struggle with that I notice most people don’t. Things that everyday people take for granted or might not understand why someone who is autistic has a hard time with them. It takes time to learn what accommodations I need and how to advocate for myself when I need help. Here are five ways my autism affects doing everyday things, and ways to help when it can seem like too much.

1. Being touched.

Many people show their love by touch — a hug, holding hands, a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the back. I’ve always had the hardest time with people touching me. It can be painful. There are a select few that I will let hug me and it usually helps if I can initiate the hug. Things that help me cope with being touched are setting boundaries. I will put out my hand first for a handshake or fist bump or I’ll just wave hi to someone. When it comes to doctor’s appointments it helps if someone explains where they are going to touch me and what they will be doing. I’ve made sure there are notes in my files so my doctors know how to approach me when doing an exam.

2. Eating.

My issues with interoception play a big part in my eating habits. Interoception is the sense of your internal body and understanding the signals that your body is sending to your brain. I can have trouble understanding how my body is feeling which can make it hard to determine if I’m hungry or not. I can also get very hyper-focused and forget to eat. I don’t do very well with menial tasks. I have to find a way to trick myself into believing that I’m still productive when I’m taking care of myself. When I’m hyperfocused on something, I set timers and alarms for myself. This can help remind me that I should stop for a bit and go eat. Another thing that helps me is setting a schedule, that way I get into a routine of eating at the same time every day.

3. Taking a shower.

Because of sensory issues, I often have trouble taking a shower or bath. Showers can be a bit abrasive, the hot and cold of getting out of the shower can make me not even want to get in. During the winter I get so cold and I hate getting in and out of the shower because of the frigid temperatures. I’ve found that having a little heater in the bathroom can really help me with extreme temperature changes.

I also have this sense that I could always be doing something better. Sometimes I can go a couple of days not taking a shower just because I’m focused on other things and I would rather be doing them than have to take a shower and do menial tasks. To help with this feeling, I’ve learned that listening to music or an audiobook helps me with feeling like I’m not “wasting my time.” It can also help me stay in the shower longer and clean myself better because I’m enjoying listening to something.

4. Wearing clothes.

My style and what I’m wearing are determined by how I feel in clothes. Tags, textures, and fabrics can all cause sensory issues. It can be hard sometimes to buy clothes online because I’m not sure how the clothes will feel and if I like the texture and fabric. I’ve learned that there are just some fabrics I can’t handle. I mostly like wearing cotton. I almost always wear cotton leggings and an undershirt under all my clothes. This can help with the feeling of other garments I have on. I also make sure to take all the tags off my clothes.

5. Going to the store.

Supermarkets are loud and malls can be sensory overload. While I like shopping for certain things I can easily get overwhelmed and have meltdowns in stores. I am best when I can do things in a controlled environment and I can expect what will happen. If a store I go to is busier than usual this can mess with the plan I had or how I predicted the day to go. Things that help are checking the store’s busy hours and trying to go during times when there are fewer people in the store. When I’m going to the store, I always make sure I have headphones or earplugs with me and a stim toy. This helps with the sensory issues I have when shopping. If I can, I will also shop online instead of going to the store.

Do you have trouble with any of these tasks? How does autism affect doing everyday tasks?

Originally published: August 2, 2022
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