How to Navigate Normal
Saying that living in this world is an understatement for individuals with the same disability as me, and at times, life could be a challenge. Though I’m not saying that it’s impossible for people with autism spectrum disorder to live on their own, what I’m saying that it would be hard for them. All they need is patients; like other things in this world, it’s not going to be fix overnight it’s going to take time for them to understand how the world works, and they would need to practice the life skills before they are send into the reality. They are going to use your help to achieve these skills as well as your understanding.
Those who are reading this that have autism; here some life hacks that I use that has given me a hand to navigate:
- Multiple Journals:
Journals, in my opinion, I have found that having more than just one journal has to help me to gather my thoughts, and unscramble them so I could think properly. When I think of something, I will write it down in one of my journals.
I have different journals for different purposes; one for my crazy and wild imaginations, one for keeping my “to-do-list,” and the other for my faith (Bible studies, prayers, etc.). with these I could keep track my thought process, and not get lost in the own mind.
I used to have a survival journal when I began my semester of college, but then it turned into a “what’s on my mind” journal.
Your journals could be anything that has the paper, not just a book; what I use for my “to-do-list” is sticky notes, I write down my chores so when forgetting something, it helps me to look at these notes to remind myself of what I need to do. (I joke with my family that when I have my place, it would be cover head to toe in sticky notes). If you have problems with paper then use an electronic notebook; it is alright to use these gizmos as long you write down your thoughts, and if the lists of journals aren’t your cup of tea then use your imagination on what type of journal that would fit your needs.
- More Than One Calendars:
I keep two calendars that I frequently use to help me with scheduling appointments and events; having to write down my appointments and events, or I would forget. I carry around a small traveling calendar with me all times, so when I make appointments, I will not make multiple appointments on the same time as well as an office calendar at home so that I could be reminding of my appointments and other important dates. In my room, I have a chalkboard calendar so I would have something in the open, and therefore would not forget my appointment.
It is alright to use a digital calendar to keep dates; what works for you then go for it, but I use the usual because these dates are in my face and I have to put my energy when making appointments (that’s just me there). Whatever works for you, but you do need to write down your appointments down, so you’ll be in the know. And if you are one of those people that can remember these things; write it down regardless, it’s better safe than sorry.
- Have a Hobby:
Having a hobby can help you to relax, and can be very fun. A person cannot go through his/her day by working every day; sooner or later working nonstop would eventually burn themselves out which would lead to more problems, plus it’s not healthy for the human body to work so hard with little to no rest. Life is more than just work; you’re allowed to have fun and have some hobbies.
On my free time, I like to do drawing, writing stories and poetry, baking, knitting, and reading a book. When I have something that I enjoy, and would be able to focus on other jobs when looking forward on a hobby that I enjoy. Take time to relax and enjoy life by doing something that you enjoy, and if you don’t have a hobby; found something that interests you and learns how to do it.
- Communicate with People That You Trust
To have contact with those that you trust is crucial for many reasons; to have people that have your back in any situations is helpful, and quite takes the weight off the shoulders. I always tell myself, “nobody can carry the world forever,” and it stands right.
My mom is someone that I trust when dealing with others; call her my life coach if you will, but she was here the whole time. She fought my battles when I was a little girl and was unable to, and is teaching me how to fight for myself. I even trust her more than my doctors; my reasons are that physicians would care for me, but my mom will always love me.
Maybe you unable to trust your parents, and believing them is a big waste of time. Not to worry; found someone to trust like a sibling, friend, or spouse, etc., it’s an excellent idea to be in good terms with your doctors. Though I don’t trust entirely in doctors does not mean that I disregard them; still going to appointments and whatnots, but I would advise to asked questions when they are prescribing new medications and give you new treatments. Don’t just take what they give you; enquired about the side effects because of every prescription them, and also tell them about these side effects so you and your doctor could either continue the medication or prescribe another that would be more useful.
To keep these things to yourselves would not help you to get anywhere; I used to go to a speech therapist, but I did not like her one bit. I felt that she was undermining me, but I did not say anything about how I was feeling. I also did not follow the instructions because I felt that she was treating me like some idiot because she was giving activities that I already know and which was not related to the therapy. Because I did not say anything I was told not to return, and therefore not taking did not help me in the slightest.
We, humans, are social creatures, and we need each other to survive this world. We are going to talk, to another person, pet, or object. Just make sure to get whatever is on your chest off, or it’s weight will crush you.
- Never Give Up, Never Give In
When making goals that you’ll want to achieve, and it seems impossible to accomplished; try it regardless. You’ll never know if you never try; which ring true for everyone.
When trying new things is both thrilling and scary at the same time especially when it’s outside the comfort zone, but when we accomplished that goal, we feel proud of ourselves.
I remember when I was still in high school; there was a Christmas play that everyone was excited about, and I want to be a part of it. The problem was I had a speech deficit, and when I get nervous or upset, I stutter and slur more than usual.
When the tryouts for the roles for each character I picked up the script and did my best for my desired purpose; though it was not perfect I still did my best, and guess what I got the part.
I practice my lines, and I work hard to pronunciation to make sure that every word is just right. In the end, it was worth it. Being told that I was the best actress in the whole play even if I didn’t have the lead role because I did my part as well as to continue to practice. I would never know how much fun it was if I would let my fears get in the way, and let it define who I am.
The hardest part when trying new things when it begins to get harder, and quitting looks very tempting. Unfortunately, more people do not seek new things, and this problem is growing more and more. To break this growing trend is to start with yourself, and when things tight you have to continue working on your goals to reach your dreams. Think of it as “wish upon a star” kind of stuff.
Also, you have to ignore the voice that is harassing and hounding you; there will be others that would think that your goals/dreams are out of your reach, and sometimes believe that they are helping you in the long run. But in the end, you have not to listen to them even if they are your loved ones. The reasons are that they are human too; they make mistakes, and they are prone to failure like everyone on this earth. Then there are those who like to see others fail, or like to laugh at people who are failing to learn new hobbies. Sometimes it looks easy to give up, and never try at anything. But here’s a saying, “if you fall off the horse get back on and try again.”
6. and lastly; keep things simple:
There are times where I keep making my tasks harder than it needs to be, and I need to take a step back, and a remind myself to keep it simple. Your worst enemy is yourself.
In the US Army (my father was in the military), there is a code that they follow called K.I.S.S which stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid.” It’s a neat little reminder that not everything has to be a hard and complicated, and that somethings don’t need to be super tricky. My mom made an idiom for this type of occasion, “Don’t try to cram a cheeseburger in, take one bite at a time.”
When you’re getting frustrated with a project, or job, it is all right to take a step back and take another look at a different angle. Also, you’re not alone; it’s completely normal to making things challenging, and that everyone has done it not just you. (It doesn’t hurt to get an early start either).
Hopefully, my advice would be helpful to you and your loved ones. Also, I still struggle with following my advice so if you don’t right the first time don’t feel bad just try again.