#BreakingNews! #Autistic woman plans to sustain her daily routine while visiting family!

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Once a year, VoxVisual does the well-nigh impossible — she visits her overwhelming family and lives to tell the tale. Autistic since birth, she’s lived in a constant state of overwhelm for as long as she can remember.

“I’m not looking for pity,” she tells us, “but it’s not easy dealing with all the chaos  — especially at holiday times. I have a large immediate and extended family, and they love to stir everything up. Yelling, singing, jumping around, talking about this-that-and-the-other-thing, switching subjects without warning… and never giving me a minute’s rest. It’s exhausting! And even though I love them and need to see my family at least once a year, I dread doing it — especially during the holidays.”

What to do? In someone else’s house, on someone else’s schedule, interacting with people she normally doesn’t interact with, how does she manage it?

“It’s taken me years,” VisualVox tells us, “but I’ve finally figured it out. Of course, it helps to have an autism diagnosis that tells me plainly that I can expect to have issues with these sorts of experiences. Knowing what I now know about autism, I can plan accordingly. And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m preparing in advance for the onslaught. I’m rehearsing ahead of time. I love my family and want to have a good time with them, and I’m determined to find a way.”

September might seem like an early time to be thinking about the holidays — unless you’re the sort of person who gets all their presents-shopping done well in advance. But for VisualVox, it just makes sense.

“Practicing now — breaking up my daily routine a little bit — while there’s no pressure, is just the ticket for getting myself in shape. I think of the holidays as an athletic event (and it is physically and mentally challenging). I also think of the months ahead of time as my “training period”. I give myself little doses of change, of non-standard experiences, of intermittent overwhelm. Then I take some time to recover, think through the lessons, figure out what worked and what didn’t, and then have another ’round’ of challenge.”

If it sounds tiring, rest assured — it is. But it’s worth it.

Is it all work and no play, though? Not at all, according to V.

“Testing myself is only part of what I do — the other part is finding the things in my regular everyday life that I can ‘transfer’ to my family visit. For example, routine is very important to me. It’s essential. So, I repeat certain routines I have at home that make me feel comfortable and cared-for. My morning wake-up routine, for example. Every morning when I get up, I exercise before I do anything else. I ride an exercise bike. I lift some weights. And when I’ve worked up a sweat, my mind is clear and I can get on with my day. I typically have my breakfast right after that, and the day begins in earnest.

“When I visit my family, I make sure I have a good morning workout before I do anything else. And I also make sure I eat my breakfast immediately after my workout. That way, I have a good start that I know works for me — and it’s good for my family, too. Some people try to escape routine to relax and enjoy themselves. I’m the exact opposite. Routine itself helps me relax. Also, I used to be absolutely consumed by physical fitness and kinesthetics. I was fascinated by the human body, especially the muscular system. While some girls drew pictures of their favorite band’s logo, I drew pictures of the major muscle groups. Taking the time to lift a little weight actually makes me feel like I’m 16 again — and that’s always nice, especially when you’re surrounded by people who are constantly bemoaning ‘getting old’.”

Clearly, it’s different strokes for different folks. Routine is helpful?! It’s not boring? It’s actually enjoyable? How many folks groove on routine? Well, clearly at least one person does, and she revels in it.

So, this coming holiday season, prepare to be amazed as VisualVox, the #ActuallyAutistic woman makes her way through the obstacle course of the holidays with her routine intact, her nerves steady, and her family relationships sustained for yet another year!

Stay tuned for more reportage on #ActuallyAutisticAdventures! Discrete stimming that soothes the most jangled nerves… Getting safely up and down stairs despite extreme vertigo and sensory overwhelm… Tips on replying to people who talk a mile a minute in heavy accents… Feigning interest in boring stuff for people you love and care for… and more!

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2 thoughts on “#BreakingNews! #Autistic woman plans to sustain her daily routine while visiting family!

  1. Lol I love this! I wish the news actually covered stuff like this (in some kind of segment or something), and maybe you’ve just given someone a revolutionary idea 😊 Awesome format/style! And yeah, I’ve been thinking about the upcoming holidays, too, even though it’s still clearly summer here in S TX 😉😂💗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is brilliant! Great post and thanks for sharing. 🙂

    I also have a big family especially on my dad’s side. Luckily we did move across the country away from relatives when I was around 10 or 11. Before then Thanksgiving, Easter etc consisted of trying to visit most of our relatives. Christmas was the hardest on me and the most busiest. Christmas Eve we spent the evening with our grandparents and my uncle on my mom’s side. (They are Austrian so they celebrate Christmas on the 24th) come home around 8 ish sometimes later I am sure, attempt sleep with the excitement every child gets on Christmas, wake up do the morning routine of presents and breakfast with my parents and brother. Then we would take off to my grandparents (my dad’s side) where his entire family (My dad has 4 siblings, so five kids in total on his side. With their own kids and that family keeps growing) huge gathering for the day and we had a big turkey dinner always at my grandparents place. My parents often tell me the holidays were always hard on me, many melt downs and needing to be on my own if only for a little bit etc. My parents did however stick to a very strict routine with me the best they could on the holidays because it was really one of the only saviors that would have me survive it. When I moved across the country to the west coast as much as I missed my relatives, the holidays were much more relaxing and not as hectic on me. They still are relatively hectic though and I always need like anywhere up to a week to normally recover mentally and physically from holidays. I am now also living in a different place (The states) away from all my family with my husband. The holidays will be different and I kind of fear the unknown as I haven’t experienced a holiday yet here. Thanksgiving will be my first test and to see how his family celebrates. I am praying it is just going to be like him, his dad and step mom and they don’t decide to invite a bunch of people over I likely never met. But if it is, I won’t let it ruin everything for me. I have tricks and tips to survive the holidays that I have taught myself and found out what works that I will still implement even in an unknown environment. Routine is definitely high on the list.

    I thought about doing like a blog post probably closer to Christmas about a survival guide for people on the spectrum. Like the things I have found that works for me share them and they might help others. I dunno, but I am waiting a holiday as it would make more sense. xD

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