Any kind of change can be hard for people with autism – from big changes such as moving to a new town/school, to smaller, more subtle ones, such as putting on new clothes, or taking a small detour. One change that will come around every year, several times a year, is the changing of the seasons. Right now it`s the change from Summer to Autumn. This can lead to stress, meltdowns and confusion. This change, though small compared to others, can have a huge impact on the lives of autistic people. Below are some tips on how to deal with this, and and prevent it from becoming a big issue.
Talk about it in advance: This could be the most important of all the tips. Don’t let things sneak up on you; if you know, or think it will be hard for yourself or someone you know, then talk about it. Build up to it and plan for it, but more than that just chat about it. Bring it out in to the open in a casual way, and just talk about how the changing of the seasons might affect things.
Plan: Following talking, planning is important. What is going to happen, and what can be done to help? And when? Once these questions are answered things become a lot clearer.
Write about the change: Write down what the change will mean, when it will come, and what might be good/bad about it. An example of this might be saying that early September is where Summer ends and Autumn begins. So by glancing at a calender it will be clear how long is left before the seasons change. There might also be a list of good and bad points to the change, for example, it is bad that there will no longer be sunny weather, but good that it is closer to Halloween. The points on this list will vary from person to person.
Think about other changes: September is not just the change from Summer to Autumn, it is also the time when schools, colleges, and universities start the new academic year. So depending on the age of the autistic person they may have a lot of change during this month anyway. With all of this to consider it is easy to forget that the seasons are changing. But try to think of all of this as being connected; not only is there change in the person`s life at the end of the summer break, but the world is changing before their eyes – the weather, the trees, how everyone is dressing, and how they feel when they go out side.
Find out what helps and stick to it: If something works then stick with it. It might be that writing about the change is not helping, in which case drawings might work; a drawing of summer, and one of autumn to highlight the changes. If it works don’t worry about trying to write the next time, or the time after that, just stick to drawings. The changing of the seasons is going to come around several times a year, and knowing what works for you, and sticking to this makes your life easier, and can save a lot of stress.
The changing of the seasons can be hard, but will come along every few months, and therefore can not be avoided. It is one of those changes that some neurotypical people don’t even consider when thinking of things that can be hard for autistic people. But if someone finds change hard then watching the world change before their eyes will not be easy. The impact can be huge, so planning, and putting in the work to minimize stress and anxiety is key. Hopefully the tips above can help in some way with this.