Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Comfort of the Known

Last week was half term, and we barely made it through with my son. In fact it was worse than the summer holidays, and the reason for this is likely to be that he is newly settled in a new school. He loves his new school and he has even told me he has a girlfriend now, so I guess it's not surprising that having found a new comfort zone, the half term holidays really threw him.

This has got me thinking recently about how I deal with similar situations. Obviously as a full time working adult I don't have set holidays that are out of my control. The holidays I do book are very much in my control. However, sick days are very much out of my control...and are honestly extremely difficult for me to cope with.

The way I feel about sick leave is probably a very good example of why autistic people fear any kind of change in routine. When I have to call the office and tell them I am not coming in because I am sick I feel as though by being removed from my normal route, it will no longer be there for me when I return. It is as though I am risking the loss of my place in the world I have built for myself.
It feels as though I am out of place. As though the world is continuing on and I have been excluded from it. A sense of panic sets in and I feel that if I don't return to my normal world, then when I try to return to it, it will be too late and I will no longer be welcome.

Well-meaning friends and relatives tell me to take an extra day off, to make sure I am better before I return, but I can't do it. I MUST return to work as quickly as possible to reclaim my place in my world. To reassure myself that even though I have been sick, the world will continue on as it did before, and with me in it.

This must be what it feels like for Autistic children on their school holidays, as the holidays are completely out of their control. Will the school still be there when they return? Will their teachers and their friends still be there? Will they still love them? Will things look, smell, sound different? The world is one big unknown quantity, and we are all terrified that just when we've figured out a wonderful little place in will all just disappear...

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