The aim of my blog is to support people on the autistic spectrum to adapt to living in quarantine during the corona virus pandemic and to share my experiences and to give some pointers. This blog is by an autistic writer, for autistic individuals.
My mum had been sent home from her place of work because she started coughing continuously. She was advised by the doctor over the telephone to self isolate.
A day later I started to feel muscle pains. My anxiety which is always under the surface, kicked in, and I decided to isolate at home too.
My daily News viewing had increased dramatically. I would watch the headlines every hour to catch constant updates about the coronavirus which wasn’t helping my situation, it was just making me more paranoid and anxious. It was also making me going onto the internet and self diagnose.
Lack of routine and household tension:
Being in isolation has not been easy for me to adjust to. I am not working at the moment because my workplace has temporarily closed due to the lockdown.
My regular meals of brown rice, brown pasta, canned tuna, and chicken that I eat daily are not in the house so a lot of familiarity has been lost.
This has also led to a lot of problems in my home. My mum does not understand autism, is in denial about me being on the spectrum, and doesn’t understand how a change of routine can affect people on the spectrum. It’s caused a lot of friction.
My already difficult social interactions with people was made worse. After I came out of self Isolation I needed to go to the shop to buy some food for the house.
Whenever I encountered a person on my journey I would cross to the other side of the road. If I saw somebody approaching me, frightened they would cough at me, I would run away.
Once inside the shop I would not walk down the aisle until I requested a staff member to move out of it so I could pick up my food. It was even worse at the checkout when I kept looking at the lady serving me with an anxious expression on my face. It was my over anxiety and the fear of someone coughing in my direction.
How you can adapt and clear your mind:
The first thing that I started to do was exercise at home. I have an exercise bike in my room so I did that for 45 mins every day when I woke up in the morning.
One thing that you can do to adapt is to go for a daily walk. If you have anxieties when you are out then try going for a walk around the block a few times. Alternatively, try following some workout routines online.
Less over analysing:
If you are worried about encountering every day people whilst out make sure you keep to the 2 metre rule. Alternatively you can wear a face mask while out. It’s reassuring and keeps you at ease.
In times of quarantine it’s best to keep busy so I thought I’d work on my genealogy and my family tree. But you can do other things that you find of interest to you, such as puzzles, reading your favourite books or comics.
Turn off the news:
Instead of watching the news I watched some of my favourite sci-fi films. So you can try turning on Netflix and catching up with your favourite shows, or play some of your favourite computer games to pass the time and keep you occupied
To ease tensions at home with my mum I would watch some of her favourite comedy shows with her. I’d enquire about her day, just get involved with her a little bit. What you can do is play board games together, watch some of your favourite shows together or just sit down and talk about your hobbies.
I had to adapt the daily foods that I ate. Instead of brown pasta I changed over to white pasta. As I like cheese I put lots of cheese on the pasta to make It suit more to my tastes. Instead of canned tuna I made cheese or beef sandwiches instead. Experiment with beef or cheese. Look for other alternatives. Tasting new foods can be fun.
It’s a difficult time for people on the spectrum. I hope that by reading this blog it can help you to understand that although change can be very difficult there is ways we can alleviate and adapt to our surroundings and keep our selves safe and healthy.
For more similar stories visit our blog.
By Anna Everts
This blog discusses how you can communicate your needs as an autistic adult within your job and gives you recommendations on how to start the conversation with your manager and colleagues. This blog is written by an autistic writer, for autistic job-seekers.
For a lot of people, working 9-5 is the norm, and you will likely be spending a lot of time within your workplace with your colleagues. This means that it’s essential for the workplace to be a place where you feel appreciated and understood. But the latter poses a problem for many autistic individuals. Being misunderstood is a common problem that autistics face and it can be really frustrating.
Frustrating as it may be, it’s not an unsolvable problem. By using clear communication towards your employer and your co-workers, it’s possible to create an environment where everyone’s needs are met.
But how do you start such a conversation? What can you expect? Here’s a short guide on how to best communicate your needs.
1. Make a plan
If you want the conversation with your employer and/or your co-workers to go smoothly, you need to know what you are going to say to them. It’s important to create a list with the topics you want to discuss. Is your workplace too noisy and are you looking for somewhere more quiet?
Write down why the noise bothers you, what effects it has on you and your work, what you would like to change about the situation and what the outcome would be.
“My autism causes me to be very sensitive to sounds. In the workplace I’ve found myself being distracted by the sounds of people using their keyboard or calling a client. It often becomes overwhelming at the end of the day.
This negatively impacts my work and that’s very unfortunate. That’s why I want to start wearing noise-cancelling headphones to prevent a sensory overload. That way I can do my job effectively.“
“Recently I’ve noticed some friction between me and my colleagues. I’m not able to execute my tasks correctly because I feel like I’m missing information. I struggle explaining this to my colleagues and I don’t want to take up too much of their time by asking a lot of questions every time.
That’s why I suggest making a briefing format that answers all questions at once. I’m more than willing to create this format. That way colleagues can simply fill in the briefing document and mail it to me at the beginning of a task. This prevents having to ask them about the missing information and this saves both parties a lot of time.“
For every problem you face you should write down a possible solution. If you can’t find one, ask your employer or co-workers to think of some solutions with you. The important thing is that you’re showing that you’re taking an effort to solve this. Showing initiative is key.
You can use this plan to make notes for your conversation or actually use it as a script. Do what works best for you and keep in mind that people won’t be able to help you if they don’t know what the problem is. That’s why you need to properly explain the problem. If you struggle putting words on paper, ask someone to help you. Stack Recruitment is able to help you with this and is more than happy to do so!
2. Plan the conversation
Sometimes it’s difficult to pick the right moment to plan a conversation. Especially a conversation like this can be nerve-wracking and therefore takes some courage. It can be hard to read the other person. Are they busy? Are they in the right mood for this?
Once you’ve gathered your nerve, pick a moment to approach the person you want to have a conversation with. When you do this, make sure to check if they have time. If their schedule is full, they might not have time for you or won’t give you the time you need to explain your situation. That’s why you should ask the person in question (something along the lines of) the following:
“There’s something I’d like to discuss with you and it might take up some time. Can we schedule a moment for this conversation?”
By saying this, you inform the other person about your need for a conversation while also giving them time to process it and pick a moment that works for them as well. It ensures that both parties go into the conversation prepared.
If you need help preparing the conversation, Stack offers guidance and advice. That way you’ll be ensured that you’re ready for this big step. We’ll help you find the right people for the conversation and help you with the steps that follow.
3. Have the conversation
Probably the most scary part of all this is the conversation itself. There’s no way of knowing the outcome beforehand and that can be enough to make anyone nervous. So as you’re going into the meeting, keep your notes close and make sure you’ve written down everything you want to say.
Listen to the other person and make sure you show you understand. At the end of the conversation both sides need to be aware of what the other person’s thoughts are about the issue. That’s why it’s important to both communicate clearly and listen carefully.
If you feel like you’re not being listened to, or you feel like you’re being misunderstood, say so. This conversation is meant to help you, not make things worse. Stay polite and try to stay calm. It’s the only way to make sure the conversation goes smoothly.
If you still feel like nothing has changed at the end of the conversation, see if you can talk to someone else, or have someone be with you during the next conversation. Sometimes other people can explain the issue more clearly. There’s no shame in asking for help. Stack Recruitment can help you make this difficult conversation easier. We offer support and guidance throughout the entire process.
After you’ve had the conversation and things have been set in motion to solve the issue, you need to re-evaluate the situation. How are things going now? Are you still facing the same issues? Or is there still room for improvement?
It’s a good idea to schedule another meeting with your employer or co-worker, depending on who you had the first conversation with, and re-evaluate the situation together. Working with others requires teamwork and team effort. That means both parties need to put in the work to make it a success. If you need help re-evaluating or planning another conversation, don’t be afraid to reach out to us!
If you find yourself struggling with this process or are unsure how to start planning, feel free to contact us. Here at Stack are ready for you to support you and help you get the guidance you need. We’re here for you from step one all the way to step four, and even beyond that.
If you’re looking for a job, its a big thing. It takes time, effort and concentration. Especially if you’re an autistic job-seeker, the effect of this pandemic can have a huge impact and make the whole process scary. We don’t know whats going to happen and the situation changes every day. This poses the question: should you continue your job search? This blog aims to answer this question and support you during your journey!
Yes – Job interviews are being done remotely:
The recent news state that human contact should be kept to a minimum. For this reason, many companies are turning to video call to keep their recruitment processes running.
This can really benefit autistic job-seekers, as you can speak to hiring managers from a comfortable environment, which may reduce some of the anxiety associated with the interview setting. Here are some really good tips on preparing for a virtual interview.
As a jobs board and recruitment agency, we have always focused on flexibility and ensuring everything can be kept virtual, to keep our service accessible for everyone. This is why we are still running our job coaching service virtually, to continuously support our job-seekers.
Yes – More remote opportunities:
More and more companies are choosing to work from home. This is emphasising the need to create a strong, remote workforce both now and in the future.
Research suggests that over the next year, the importance of a remote workforce will significantly increase. This should favour the autistic community, as more opportunities should offer flexible, home working opportunities, making employment more accessible for neuro-diverse employees.
However there will be delays to the recruitment process, as we move from office working to home working, so try and be patient with your search. If you need any extra support, contact us.
Yes – Not every industry will suffer:
Despite the economy being unstable right now, there are industries that will be able to get through this hard time. These include, nonprofits, governmental organisations, cleaners, medical practices and delivery services to name a few.
Some industries and companies may be requiring extra employees and its important to keep an eye out for emerging trends, as they could be great opportunities.
No – The uncertainty:
It is clear the Coronavirus is causing significant levels of uncertainty for employers. Some employers are putting off hiring completely, which will in effect slow down hiring.
On the other hand, this can mean employers may have previously posted a job, but are taking their time to sort out their recruitment processes before making big decisions.
If you’re an autistic job-seeker this could make you feel anxious and unsure about where you’re at. It is so important to put your health a priority and keep yourself safe.
Things you can do instead:
Work on your skills:
Now is a fantastic time to learn new skills. There are lots of free courses, youtube videos and webinars out there to help you learn. Examples of websites to use include: Open University, Coursera, Teachable and Skillshare.
If you want some time away from your computer screen, you could also develop your interests, such as a sport, an art form, website development, coding, music or dance! Remember, interests are a great way to show employers who you are as a person and show them what interests you!
Develop your CV:
Your CV is one of the key tools that helps an employer understand who you are and what experience you have. On average, an employer spends approximately 30 seconds reviewing each CV when someone applies for a role. This is why its so important to have it updated and presentable.
If you need extra support or are not sure where to start, contact Stack and we can help you develop your CV and provide valuable feedback.
Get a Linkedin profile:
If you’ve already got a LinkedIn profile, great! If not, its a really useful tool to have to not only search for jobs, but connect with employers and professionals.
Its very easy to set up, and the search for jobs feature is simple to use. You can even select specific filters, such as distance away from where you live, entry level roles, job types and industry.
Send your CV to Stack Recruitment
Despite all this happening, we are fully operational. If you are an autistic job-seeker, we will help you start your job search through 1-1 virtual weekly meetings.
However, we understand that some people communicate differently, so we are also able to help through emails, phone calls or WhatsApp!
Get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safe say and stay positive!