The Mighty Logo

What I'm Struggling With as an Adult With Autism During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

 A version of this blog appeared on here. Follow Kerry’s journey on Facebook here.

Being thrown off your routine and struggling with unexpected transitions can be a challenge for anyone. I know it may not seem like a big deal for some, but because of my autism some of the challenges brought on by the coronavirus outbreak have felt dialed up to 11.

Growing up with autism, transitions were one of my true weaknesses. I didn’t say my first word until 3 years old, but communication was never as big of a challenge as transitions and sensory challenges were. For example, when I was starting pre-K, I would get to school and kick the door not wanting to go inside. Once I got used to the routine, I would kick the door not wanting to leave school at the end of the day.

I’m happy to say today I’ve worked though most of my challenges and I’m a public speaker. Most people even say, “You have autism? You don’t look like you have autism.” But of course, I still do. I have an invisible disability and still deal with some sensory and transition challenges.

This week, I looked at my calendar for World Autism Month, traveling out of state for a majority of the month, looking forward to promoting autism acceptance, understanding and inclusion.

Then a tsunami of emails started coming in…

One by one every event for the next three months was postponed. World Autism Month felt cancelled to me and moved to October. My schedule (my Google spreadsheet) which I lived by was drastically changed. I started to feel overwhelmed and the other day experienced burnout as each group I work with was either calling or emailing me asking me to look at my calendar “ASAP” for new dates, all while I’m simultaneously on the phone trying to cancel every flight and hotel room I had scheduled. Then another email comes in asking if I can do a virtual presentation. Then another email comes in.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand all the postponements. We need to flatten the curve and safety is the number one priority right now. The best thing I did for myself when I was going through these challenges was reminding myself to breathe.

I wanted to write this all out today to remind every person with autism who’s struggling with with all the changes to do the same. Most of you with children are dealing with this right now with school closures. I get you. I feel for you.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need unity more now than ever. Let’s support one another during these times. Acknowledge how you feel to somebody close to you. The worst thing you can do is listen to sometime who says “deal with it.” Your feelings are valid.

We are going to get through this together and I hope you know that.

Concerned about coronavirus? Stay safe using the tips from these articles:

Getty image via francescoch

Originally published: March 26, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home