Actually Autistic, Life

Why Couldn’t You Do It For Me? – how the coronavirus measures are making me (an Autistic) feel

Hello Everyone!

Today I honestly just want to rant in the hopes that it makes me feel better and that it helps bring awareness to how people’s actions seriously affect those of us with disabilities. We’re all well aware of the pandemic going on right now and we’re all being inconvenienced in some way or another. I wasn’t originally going to talk about this because I’m personally sick of seeing all the coronavirus news (no pun intended). I can’t even open YouTube without a pop up about it. I understand it is an important problem, but it causes me immense anxiety and I don’t want to hear about it whilst trying to carry on with my life inside my house. I know how annoyed I am about it taking over everything, so I wasn’t keen to add to it, but I felt it needed to be talked about because it’s brought to light a lot of things that I think are important that we don’t let slide.

I’m also going to be doing a youtube video on it, so you can watch that here if you prefer to listen rather than read:

For a little bit of context, I’m Autistic, I have Tourettes and I struggle with severe anxiety and depression. I had a terrible time at school because they weren’t interested in helping me and I still struggle now because I live in a world that is unable or unwilling to adapt.

Honestly this post isn’t going to have a lot of structure to it because I really do just want to get my feelings out there about things this pandemic had brought to light, so let’s just get started shall we?

Why couldn’t you do it for me?

For the last year of secondary school, I did ‘flexischooling’, which is where I worked mostly from home for the non-practical subjects like English and Maths, but still had to attend one lesson a day for the practical/creative subjects I did (photogrpahy, art and music BTEC). This was FAR from ideal because even going in for that one lesson left me hyperventilating and so wired from anxiety I could barely function, but it was the best we could come up with without pulling me out of school completely. Let me be clear that we did not come to this arrangement quickly or easily. We had been trying to arrange this for almost 2 years prior and only managed it in my last year, so it was a long wait and a lot of suffering in between because the school was apparently ‘unable’ to help in the way we wanted.

My school years were hell and yet there I was believing in the first few years that I really was such a pain to have at the school and getting progressively worse and yet now we’re seeing entire corporations and schools turn around the system to do online/at home schooling within a matter of days…. Imagine how that makes me feel.

They can do it and they could have done it for me immediately, but they chose not to. They felt they were right in thinking is would be better for me to learn to cope with the real world and that I couldn’t possibly learn effectively at home without their expert support. NewsFlash! I could and I excelled at home when I was in my pyjamas, able to listen to music and could stim and tic freely without the over-stimulation of the school environment and other people’s ignorance.

I can’t describe the anger and hurt I feel at knowing for sure now just how easy it would have been to accommodate me. Maybe I wouldn’t have spent my early teen years wishing for death and maybe I wouldn’t still be battling severe anxiety and depression on a daily basis. All I was asking that my teachers email me the work when they were teaching my class. That was it. An email whenever they had my class, so like twice a week….Is that hard? NO! And yet they didn’t give a damn and made me suffer instead, which I will never forgive them for, especially now we’re seeing just how easily and quickly they can do it.

The inconvenience and panic you’re feeling is what I feel like everyday

I’ve actually seen a few other Autistics commenting on this, but I thought I’d add to it since it’s a pretty good point to make. Everyone is feeling inconvenienced right now with the extra measures put in place and plans getting cancelled left right and centre. You can’t do daily routines like going to the gym and you’ve had to cancel mothers day plans etc etc. It’s annoying isn’t it when your life is being turned upside down and anxiety is running high? Well that’s what my life is like everyday.

I am constantly having to make adjustments and compromises, so that the NT (Neuro-typicals or non-autistics) don’t feel uncomfortable and I’m not able to go to places like gyms as a daily routine because they aren’t accessible to me. My life runs on routine and every tiny aspect is carefully planned, so when I get an email from my tutor telling me I need to do one extra research page she forgot to tell me about or we need to stop for petrol on the way somewhere, that throws everything out of wack. I calculate my plans down to the minute to make sure my day goes smoothly and I don’t get overwhelmed, but changing the plan like people do to me everyday on some level (no matter how small and trivial it might seem to you), ruins an awful lot of things.

I’m not saying you don’t have the right to feel annoying and stressed about everything going wrong because you absolutely do, but maybe just try to remember that feeling next time you come across someone who is Neuro-Divergent like me and think before you change the plan or don’t feel the need to pass on some small details because it could affect other people more than you know.

STOP Panic Buying!

I know we’re all worried about being quarantined and running out of food, but realistically, that is a stupid fear for most normal people because it doesn’t apply to you. Even if you are quarantined, you aren’t going to be left to starve. You can still order food for delivery because they have put measures in place to make sure there isn’t any contact between drivers and recipients, so you can still get food. As for the frenzy over toilet roll… I don’t even really know what people are thinking because no-one goes through toilet roll that quickly.

You may be wondering what this has to do with me, which yet again proves how ill-educated a lot of people are. It isn’t through any fault of their own because it’s the schools and the parents that need to make a change to include teaching about disabilities, but now is the time to learn if you haven’t already.

The panic buying will affect people with different disabilities, well differently. For me personally it affects me because there are very few foods I will eat. Sensory overload is a huge thing with Autistic people and I’m no different, so while you’re sitting in your palaces made of pasta and tinned soup, I have nothing to eat. It may seem ridiculous to NT people, but eating food I don’t like or isn’t one of the approved ‘this doesn’t make me want to throw up’ foods is worse than starving in my books. If I can’t get a hold of the limited number of foods I’ll eat (pasta, packet rice, chicken soup, frozen chicken), then I will either have to starve or live off of chocolate and sweets, which really isn’t very healthy. Even I get sick of chocolate sometimes and I’m quite the chocoholic.

Luckily for me, my mum is fierce and doesn’t take no for an answer, so she has been to every shop within a 10 mile radius and stocked up on everything I eat, so we don’t find ourselves in that situation, but that is also damaging because it is essentially panic buying. People’s ignorant panic buying has lead to people like me being forced to panic buy because if we don’t then the consequences could be fatal in some situations. This goes for medical supplies as well like wipes and hand gel that people have been buying. I personally don’t require those, but a lot of people do, so please just think before panic buying and try and chill out for the sake of the less fortunate and disabled.

I’m aware that I’ve been going on for quite a while now, but I can assure you I’m pretty much done now. There isn’t really an overwhelming point to this post other than I really needed to get this all out there for my sake and in the hopes that it might knock some sense into people.

I know it’s a scary time right now and we’re all scared, but loosing our heads like this isn’t going to help and is actually doing far more damage to a whole lot of different communities, so please just stop chill out for a minute. Everyone’s anxious at the moment and trust me I KNOW how that feels because I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety for about 6-7 years now, but stocking up on 12 years worth of loo roll isn’t going to help. Instead maybe spend the time learning from this situation and hopefully they won’t have any more excuses to not help disabled people like me. Although I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you…

I will be going back to my normal photography related posts next week and I will make no more mention of the virus across any of my social media platforms since everyone else is talking about it enough already. I hope you’re all well and staying safe during this time and remember to try and help others out as much as you can.

Goodbye for now!

Over and Out

(2) Comments

  1. Charlie Halfhide says:

    Thank you for sharing your point of view Sam! It can be hard to speak up but everything you’ve said has such substance and I’m really proud of you for speaking up! Always here if you need a chat x

    1. Samantha Drage says:

      Thank You! I felt like it needed to be said <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.