Celebrations and Being on the Spectrum
This time of year, especially, there are many gatherings. Be it family, friends, co-workers, neighborhood get-togethers, so many opportunities to put our coping skills to work.
Last night I went to a community holiday parade. Everyone was braving the weather, which hovered in the high 30s. Jackets, gloves, hats of all kinds, and also behaviors of all kinds, from adults to children, very young babies to family dogs. For me, it was a test to see how I would handle it all. Not too well, it turned out, even though I chose to stay on the very outskirts.
Many lights [steady and/or blinking]. Much gleeful shouting from children happy to be "set free" to play with friends and race around until the next event. Adults with exclamations of greetings and latest news. Horns honking, singing, "ho ho ho" being heard over it all. People pressed together. The combination of it all was too much after about 40 minutes, or less.
As someone on the spectrum, formally diagnosed with Asperger's, sometimes it is easy to spot fellow spectrum residents. In a store, the child you might see having a severe reaction, may be over-tired, hungry, or having an autistic moment in response to the external stimuli. Likewise an older child or adult may simply shut down, or try to mask true feelings “in order to fit in” with the majority of people.
How are you doing in this time of year? Do you hibernate at home? Do you make sure you carefully chose your times to interact with crowds? What about other times of celebration? When I was working and management insisted on parties, I chose to be absent, take care of myself, and to heck with how others thought of me.