By Nicola Martin and Tony Flower
STOP the world, I want to get off!
Perhaps lockdown presented many of us with the opportunity to do just that for a while, a chance to slow down and take stock, to re-evaluate what’s important to us.
We took for granted the simple pleasures – meeting friends for a coffee, family gatherings, or larger communal activities – all were cruelly curtailed.
However, for someone with autism, these can be the very things that cause anxiety – busy shops, social situations, noisy crowds – all were blissfully eliminated.
We asked Nicola how it all seemed from her viewpoint:
“For me, like most people, there were good and bad things about the lockdown, although being autistic these could be different to other people. Lockdown presented many new challenges, which made things even harder – like wearing facemasks and remembering to put them on, remembering to use hand sanitiser, and not touching things unless necessary. Keeping my distance from people was quite easy as some autistic people prefer this anyway.
“Before lockdown, I used to suffer terribly with anxiety about leaving the house, this was because everywhere was busy, noisy, and shops liked handing out balloons. During the lockdown, this anxiety was greatly reduced as most of the shops were closed. It meant fewer people, less noise, and no shops to hand out balloons.
“Going for walks became more enjoyable as, with no one travelling, there were fewer cars on the road; I didn’t have to put up with the fear of noisy car exhausts and cars backfiring. I enjoyed that side of lockdown.
“The downside for me was everyone being at home. The place that was usually my peaceful escape had become a noisy nightmare. I could not go out in the garden, and when indoors, I always had headphones on. At this point, I usually would have escaped to the countryside or coast; however, no one could travel.
“Now lockdown is easing, my anxiety is returning. Yes, it is nice to return to the coast and visit the countryside, but there are many more negatives for me. Living with autism is hard, and one thing lockdown taught me was that it does not have to be if the right changes are made.”
It’s all a matter of perspective – for some, it has been a dystopian nightmare, where personal freedom is a distant memory; for others, it’s a more peaceful place, with no one in your face. It all looks very different when you view it from another angle.
When the world slows down, I can get on!