Re-Entering the World for Those with Neurodiversity
Thinking of all the changes that have happened in the world can be completely overwhelming. This can be even more difficult for youngpeople with neurodiversity who may be going back to work, school or college. (Neurodiversity highlights that all people’s brains work in different ways, as it does for people with autism or other learning differences.It refers to the concept that certain developmental disorders are normal variations in the brain. And people who have these features also have certain strengths.) Opportunities to practice social skills are crucial for these individuals. It makes it challenging when you haven’t been able to see anyone’s facial expressions for so long with limited in-person contact. I wanted to offer some tips for those individuals who are adjusting to re-entering the world.
1. Consider Consent
Whether it’s a hug, hand shake, kiss, or any other form of physical touch, please ask if it is okay to go ahead with it before trying it with anyone. This is particularly important after a global pandemic. Be aware of the setting you’re in. What might be appropriate in your personal life might not be appropriate for work or a college class. The same applies to you. Don’t be afraid to say no if you’re not comfortable with touch yet.
2. Keep something that helps you relax with you at all times
Keep something with you that helps you to stay calm in a world that is constantly changing. Whether it is a picture or a piece of jewelry that you like to wear, anything that you enjoy will help you refocus your mind off of any chaos around you. Consider what might be best for your age group and the setting that you are in.
3. Be mindful of your consumption of social media and the news
Today, it is incredibly easy to access information when it is literally at our fingertips. People can share information that is found from anywhere and anyone can offer their opinion and comment on it. When you are looking to become informed on current events, especially as they relate to the pandemic, consider where your information is coming from. What is the agenda of the person sharing that information that you found? This is important to consider in order to find the most accurate and objective information on the pandemic and other issues. This will make you more informed about what to do in public and what to say to people when they discuss these topics. Social media has become laden with hostility during the pandemic as well. Limiting your time consuming social media will help you maintain your peace.
4. Focus on what is in your control
The rules of the environment that we are in cannot be changed. The actions of other people are not in our control either. We can’t control whether we are required to wear a mask in a certain environment. Consider what might make it easier for you. Can you step outside during a break to take it off when you can? We can’t control whether other people are following the rules or wearing a mask around us. Can you ask them to keep a certain distance from you or let someone in authority know that others are not following the rules? Focus on what is possible for you to do.
5. Be kind to yourself during imperfect moments
All of us will have moments where we will struggle to interact with people in-person again. I know I have already had several awkward moments! Give yourself grace. The journey back to normal life after the trauma that the last few months brought will not be perfect. Be patient with yourself and give yourself breaks if you need to.