Unplanned Change As Overwhelming

Like pretty much everybody on the autistic spectrum, I struggle with accepting change. However, where I perhaps differ from some other people is that it is only unplanned change that I struggle with. If I know in advance that a big change is coming up, I tolerate it well. It is change at short notice that upsets me, even if this is a change that turns out to be positive for me in the long term. Over the years, I have learned to be able to tolerate this better as I do appreciate that being so rigid in my ways holds me back so I try to challenge myself in this area as much as I can.

As an adult, I like to think that my dislike of change doesn’t get to me as much anymore but, every so often, something happens that reminds me just how hard change still is for me. One example, indeed the one that prompted this post, happened at work this week when, due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to take over the running of the shift. Now, usually, I have no issues with this if I know in advance that this is going to be my role but, on this occasion, as I wasn’t expecting it, it really affected my mood, even though I knew the circumstances couldn’t be helped. My mood was affected for several hours following this event until I eventually calmed down. This is not a competence or confidence issue as I am confident in that aspect of my role-it’s purely an issue to do with change and not expecting this to happen. In general, people on all areas of the autistic spectrum appreciate being informed in the method of communication most relevant to them that a change is due to happen. Obviously life does not always give you advance warnings and those of us on the spectrum do need to learn this but we need to be supported through the change as patiently and calmly as possible. Also it should be remembered that, for some people with autism, big changes can be accepted more than tiny changes that most people would view as trivial. These little routines and rituals are often what helps us tolerate the bigger changes so please appreciate this and try to understand that we are not being intentionally difficult when change upsets us. The world is confusing for us and routines help to keep us secure. Please try and understand how difficult it is for a lot of us and support us and acknowledge when we have coped well with change. It really is not easy for us but, with support, we can learn to cope with it better over time which will be better for everyone-we just need some patience and understanding.

2 Responses to Unplanned Change As Overwhelming

  1. Noah Weiss says:

    Sometimes, an anticipated change can end up being a bigger and more traumatic experience than what you thought. For me, that would be getting a cast earlier this week, as it disabled me from writing, shuffling cards, or riding my bike.

  2. vontoast says:

    I never thought about changes and relating them to planned and unplanned. This gives me better insight into the way I have dealt badly with one particular planned change that ended up occurring much earlier than anticipated. It also explains why I like to plan so much. To expect the unexpected unless a black swan appears.

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