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Coronavirus - how it can affect someone with Asperger’s

Staying indoors for long periods of time and not being able to go anywhere or see anyone can be challenging for most people.

The recent Coronavirus pandemic has meant we all have to stay at home and often in self-isolation. Football matches and all other events have been cancelled or postponed and most restaurants and pubs have now closed. But how can all of this sudden change affect someone who has Asperger’s?

I had heard people talking about the Coronavirus a few weeks ago but to be honest I deliberately ignored it and carried on my life as normal (Keep Calm & Carry On!). I could not come to terms with the fact that what people were talking about may be real. Therefore, I carried on as normal for as long as I possibly could.

The first thing to happen was that one of my talks was postponed but I still tried to carry on as normal. Then I heard that all football matches were postponed and this was a huge shock, as I go to football matches every week. However, I still tried to carry on as normal. Then one by one all of my talks and events I had booked were cancelled. With ‘World Autism Week’ only 2 weeks away this is the busiest time of the year for me so having everything cancelled in such a short space of time caused my emotions to be all over the place. Such a sudden and overwhelming change was very difficult for me to deal with. Things escalated very quickly including all old people having to self-isolate. This meant that a lot of the people I love and whom I have depended on all my life would be cut off from me.

I started to suffer from “Stinkin Thinkin” and it was only after speaking to my dad and my uncle that it finally sunk in that life was going to be quite different for the next few months. My uncle told me not to worry about next week or the week after but to take it three days at a time. So, I decided to look at the positives like still being able to go for a walk with my grandma. It’s these little things that you really appreciate at times like this. People also told me that I should buy some hand sanitiser to ensure my hands are always clean. I actually can’t stand the feel or smell of the stuff so try and wash my hands with soap whenever I can.

I’m in a very lucky position as I live with my grandparents so I don’t have to worry about bills. Also, I still have a lot of work that I can be doing from home. Others may not be as fortunate as I am so I started to focus on the positives. I decided that I was going to start working on selling my book, writing articles, promoting the option for companies and schools to book me to present talks remotely via Skype or buy a video of my talk. In fact, I arranged to get one of my last talks professionally videoed and I am now able to supply this ‘Video Talk’ to companies to share with their staff who are working at home or in self-isolation. So, as a result of the Coronavirus, I have created a new strand to my business and have been able to work on it a lot quicker than I otherwise would have been able to. Indeed, I have already had one company book me to present my talk via Skype and another company interested in buying a ‘Video Talk’.

To keep myself busy, I have created some projects to focus on like cleaning different areas of the kitchen each day. I also make sure that although I may not be able to go and see my friends and family that I arrange to speak with them via WhatsApp or Skype. These calls are very important to me and will be the single most important thing to keep me in touch and feeling ok. The people I call are all very positive people and they encourage me to think about all the good things happening in my life. They won’t allow me to be negative and sometimes just speaking to them for a short while leaves me feeling positive and energised. The calls also give me something to look forward to.

The moral of the story is that even someone like myself who is very positive can have a wobble at times. It’s important to remember to always focus on the positives and like when having a meltdown, find coping strategies to avert your “Stinkin Thinkin”. Problems can be converted into opportunities and I am now doing a lot of the jobs I have been putting off and as a consequence focusing on new areas of my business. I want to look back on this period in my life and remember all the great things that I achieved.  As Muhammed Ali said; “Don’t count the days, make the days count”.

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