One Autistic’s Guide to Thriving During Social Isolation / Social Distancing
Note: This post was first published on my original blog - Celebration Generation - on March 17, 2020. It was transferred over to this blog - existing comments and all - on 9/13/2021
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: This whole pandemic situation has really separated the introverts from the extroverts, across my social media feeds. It’s actually been sort of interesting to see people that I assumed to be introverts come out as extroverts, and vice versa.
As an introvert myself, I - as well as many of my fellow autistics - am actually pretty happy to engage in social isolation. We’re experts at “You don’t have to be in the same room as someone to be social with them!”, after all.
For our part, we have everything we need, now, so I’m holed up with my husband, happily puttering around on projects. We have no social obligations, have complete control over our environment at all times, and it’s pretty chill.
Of course, it’s easy for me to say “We all need to do our part and STAY HOME”, but I do realize that such a proposition is kind of scary to people who don’t have a lifetime of experience, here. So, I put together this list of suggestions and tips on how to not survive this, but THRIVE. This is the mother of all staycations, after all!
In no particular order:
- “Kung Fury” exists, and you can watch it on Youtube, here. This movie is not only a must-see on its own, but it has a sequel coming out later this year! Best get ready now, right?
- The Metropolitan Opera is doing a nightly - and FREE - live stream of different operas! They have the first week’s worth scheduled, and plan to continue until they’re able to reopen. Each new presentation goes live at 7:30 pm (Eastern, I think?), and stays online til 3:30pm the next day. We’ve been streaming it through their app on our Amazon Firestick, but they offer a few more options, as well. See here for their announcement.
Last night, we watched “Carmen” - it was my husband’s first exposure to the opera, outside of knowing “Every single figure skater EVER ends up skating to Carmen at some point”. Fabulous!
- Explore a Museum! Google has teamed up with 500 museums to post collections online, and/or offer virtual tours. Click here for the listing of collections to view, or here for an article listing 12 with virtual tours.
- Clean your house. Sure, it’s not necessarily fun... but there’s always a lot to do, right? Think about all those lists of what you should do every 6 months, or year, or whatever. When’s the last time you flipped your mattress, cleaned light fixtures and base boards, or laundered your curtains?
- Organize your house! Think about all those organization projects that you haven’t had time for. Did you move in 5 years ago and never tackled unpacking the last of your boxes? Are your books shelved all willy-nilly? Is your spice collection NOT in alphabetical order? This is exciting stuff to do - and imagine how awesome it’ll be to live in a house with everything organized!
- On that note, tackle the projects you’ve been neglecting. I have a closet with a folding door that doesn’t close all the way, one of my cats is OBSESSED with it, and it drives my nuts. Yesterday, my husband finally got around to installing a little hook to keep it shut. Life is good! We all have lists of things we’ve been meaning to get around to FOREVER.
I’m not saying the whole time needs to be productive, but ... time is a gift. Picking away at repair lists is not only a great way to kill some time, it will leave you feeling accomplished, which is a great morale booster - something we could all use right now.
- On THAT note... learn a new skill! Does your to do list have some kind of relatively minor task that you don’t know how to do? Head to youtube and expand your skillset!
I remember feeling so frustrated and helpless after our tornado... until the day I decided to demolish the bathroom, by myself. I watched some videos, googled a bit, and went to it. It was great fun, and I felt SOO good afterwards, it really carried me through. HERE is a post I wrote about that day.
My husband would like to add that learning to change your oil is a great way to get started, and ends up saving you a lot of money. That’s where he started learning handyman stuff, and he’s gone on to keep our cars under repair at all times (I haven’t gone to a mechanic in 14 years!), build us a kitchen, and more.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to knit, or sew, or crochet, or fix a clogged drain. Do the thing!
- Video conferencing is a thing, and can be used for more that just chatting. Play games with a friend, anywhere in the world. Battleship, Chess, whatever. Get creative! If you have multiple people in households, try long distance video charades!
Again: You don’t need to be in the same room as someone, to be social!
- Start a Pandemic Diary. Whether digital or handwritten, it’s good to get your thoughts down, to look back on someday... or pass along to future generations. It’s something I wish I’d done earlier, during the tornado. I’ve started one for the pandemic. Just a few thoughts every day on what we’ve done, any major events in the news, etc. It doesn’t have to be heavy, and I’m not personally keeping track of any of the numbers... just my own personal thoughts.
And hey, if you're one of those people who do the whole "Bullet Journal" thing, think of how extra you can leave YOUR record of this, for people in the future. None of the accounts of previous pandemics involved glitter markers and stickers, after all!
- Plant something! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, this is actually a great time to get seedlings started, clear away overgrowth, etc. And hey, depending on what happens with regards to food supply / shipping, etc - it could be a *really* good idea later! Personally,yesterday I planted a bunch of herbs... and will start some veggies, when I work up the desire to get into the ACTUAL dirt. (I love these little instant peat pods, you can do the gardening without getting super grimy!)
- Do food challenges, either with yourself, against the people in your house, or with friends online. Pick a couple ingredients and/or a piece of equipment that everyone involved has, and see what you can come up with, with just what you have in your house. I bet people could come up with wild ways to use canned beans, if looking at it more like a cooking show challenge, than quarantine drudgery! Also: Would be a fun entry in your quarantine diary!
- Find new ways of working out, if you’re able to and so inclined. A lot of us found ourselves without gyms this week... so make your own gym at home, get creative with it. No weights? Canned food, bottled water, etc can work. No more cardio class? Browse Youtube for all kinds of online fitness classes. No jump rope? Maybe you have some heavy enough twine or rope that would work - cut off an appropriate length, use some duct tape to create a smoother handle for a few inches on each end. Maybe this is the time you take up hiking, or explore the walking trails in your area. Just stay a few metres away from others, and you’ll be good.
- For my fellow figure skaters our there: Get to work on your flexibility! You could return to the ice with a killer spiral, maybe even the spread eagle you’ve always wanted. Now is the time to work on cranky muscles without worry about how it’ll screw with your session tomorrow. Pro tip: Ankle weights (Which you can get on Amazon, below!) are KEY to a great spiral - it’s not just about flexibility, it’s about strength... especially as skates are heavier than the running shoes you do off ice in!
Do some work on plyometrics, and your jumps will improve when you finally get back on the ice. Seriously, you can add a couple inches in height, with a bit of work. Let’s use this time to really BRING IT, next season!
- While a lot of my tips have been about catching up, you could use the time to get ahead, also. Organize your Christmas card / gift list - or design your holiday cards - for example. Take a look at your calendar and see what you’ve got coming up in the next 8-12 months or so - is there anything to tackle now? Remember, when life returns to normal, most of us will be catching up on things we couldn’t do during this time.... so a little pre-planning now will free up your time for after this period.
- Long distance viewing parties. Pick a movie that friends have access to, start up a thread on Facebook or whatever, and all start watching - and chatting - at the same time. The cheezier the movie, the better.
- Hold a photo shoot for your cats, kids, or self. Go serious - maybe get that perfect profile pic you've been wanting - or ridiculous... just have fun. Also, if you do take photos of your pets, be sure to share... especially if costumes are involved!
- If you do end up having to get out for some groceries, remember: Indian and Asian grocery stores have the BEST snacks. Trust me.
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Please and thank you 🙂
This is getting a bit long, so I’ll cut it off here. Did I miss anything? What are YOU occupying your time with, these days?