Making Progress

This week I took my first steps towards moving out! I talked to my caseworker and have a good idea of the kind of place I can afford. I’ve been looking at apartments and will spend some time tomorrow filling out applications.

The only thing I’m nervous about is references and proof of income. I’ve never rented before (I don’t think the dorms count) so I’m not sure how that will affect me. Also… I don’t have a job? I think it’s illegal to deny a renter based on disability status, and the fact I’m on government assistance shouldn’t factor. But. Still.

Anyway, I guess I’ll find out.

Plans

Sorry for being MIA for a few months! Life’s been hectic.

I have no plans to return to school. That being said, I do want to post more regularly here. I have a few posts planned that should be up soon.

The biggest upcoming change in my life is that I’m moving out of my parents’ house! I’ve lived in dorms before but never on my own so it should be a fun (terrifying) new experience. Also! I’ll be volunteering at the animal shelter in my town, which I’m very excited about.

Life Update, Blog Update

So things haven’t been going great for me lately, especially academically. I’m going through intense autistic burnout and my grades have suffered. So I’ve decided to cut my losses and withdraw from this semester of college. I may be going back next fall, or I may decide that college isn’t right for me. Either way, the focus of this blog will probably shift. I’m gonna be using it more as a blog-more personal posts, my thoughts, etc. Any resources I post will likely focus more on job-hunting and other non-school adulting things.

Visual Recipe: Rice and Bean “Burrito”

A week or so ago, I had a very bad meltdown. I found myself unable to speak, read, or write for several hours in the evening. I ate a granola bar for supper because I couldn’t even read recipes or instructions.

A few days later, I was browsing Pinterest, because I’m basically an old lady, and I came across this post, about visual recipes for people who can’t read or have trouble reading. It inspired me. I find I can process pictures better than words, especially when I’m low on energy, so I am thinking of doing a series of visual recipes for my own use and posting them, in case someone finds them helpful. Most of them will be low-spoon and sensory-friendly. Below is my first attempt, a relatively easy vegetarian dish that I eat about once a week. Serves 1-2.

Inkedvisual recipe rice and bean burrito_LI

If you have any suggestions for future recipes, please leave a comment.

Sensory Protection in the Classroom

One of my biggest issues related to schoolwork is actually going to and staying for lectures. It’s sensory overload in the making every time. Walking through loud, crowded halls, sitting in hard stools under bright lights, the constant noise of paper rustling and people fidgeting… it can all be too much. I have managed to find a few things that help me cope. Some of these may work for you, but be aware that I also have access to accommodations and if you don’t, some professors may not allow these things.

1. Noise cancelling headphones

If you have noise canceling headphones or ear defenders or ear muffs, wear them when you can. I wear my headphones with loud music playing as I walk to class and my ear muffs during class to filter out background noise. A less obvious option is ear plugs, which don’t block as much sound but are barely noticeable once they’re in.

2. Sunglasses/tinted glasses

If you’re bothered by bright fluorescent lights, you may want to try wearing sunglasses. If you find you can’t see your notes, tinted glasses or goggles are another option. I use tinted goggles for my labs, where I find sunglasses are too dark to let me do the experiment properly.

3. Sit in the same place

Although most college classrooms don’t have assigned seating, I find that sitting in the same or similar spot every day helps my sense of routine, which helps me avoid feeling anxious. I find that at my school people avoid the front seats, so it’s easy for me to sit in the same spot since I don’t mind the front.

4. Stim

I find that stimming (self-stimulating behavior) can help a lot with regulating sensory issues. If you’re nervous about looking odd, try low-key stims like bouncing your leg, sitting on your hands, or twirling your pencil. But also, try not to worry what people think of you. I find myself full-on rocking and flapping my hands in class often, and most people ignore it.

These are some of the things that I do to avoid sensory overload in the classroom. Remember though, even if you do get sensory overload and have to leave, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t push yourself, especially if you’re taking a full course load. I only go to a few classes a week simply because I can’t go to all of them. And there’s no shame in not meeting neurotypical standards.

Getting Back into a Routine After the Holidays

For many autistic people, myself included, routine is important. Without a set routine, I find myself floundering, unable to get anything done or even get myself dressed. The holidays are a welcome break from the stresses and expectations of college, but they are also a huge interruption in routine. The transition back to a set schedule can be tough. Here are a few tips to help get back into a routine.

1. Get Up at the Same Time Every Day

One thing that I struggle with is sleep. It’s easy to sleep in until you actually have to get up, but a regular sleep schedule is really important for your mental and physical health. That can be hard when you have to be at class at 8 am one day and 3 pm the next so set an alarm (or two or six) and try to get up when it goes off without lying in bed for ages. Not only will this help with regular sleep, it can also help you to have more time to be productive.

2. Set Some Alarms

Alarms aren’t just good for getting you up in the morning. I have about a half dozen alarms to remind me to do stuff that seems basic but that slips my mind otherwise. Set alarms to help you go to sleep, shower, take your meds, etc at the same time every day. This can really help with maintaining a regular schedule.

3. Set Aside Some Free Time

This one is hard for me this year. My college went on strike for five weeks in October and November, so things have been hectic and the semester isn’t over yet. With finals week coming up and a ton of material left to cover, every break I take feels like a waste of time. But it’s ok to “waste” time if you need a break! It’s hard to allow ourselves rest when we’re constantly being held to a standard set by neurotypical people, but try to make time for your hobbies, for socializing if you want, or just time to do nothing without feeling guilty.

These are a few tips that I hope will help as you head back to class or work.