Are you worried about the change in lockdown restrictions?
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the lives of autistic children and young people over the past year. But with lockdown restrictions easing, we can do more of the things we enjoy and spend time with the people we love.
It’s ok to feel worried or overwhelmed about returning back to ‘normal’. It can take time to re-adjust to things that we haven’t done in a very long time, like returning to the office.
It’s important that we look after our mental health and take things at a pace we feel comfortable with. Everyone will feel differently.
There are lots of things you can do to make the change less daunting.
What’s on this page
- Talking to others about how you’re feeling
- Relaxation of social distancing rules
- Wearing a mask
- Crowded events or spaces
- Returning to the office
- Taking time to relax
- Challenging negative thoughts
- Going at your own pace.
Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about how you’re feeling and anything that is playing on your mind. It might be difficult at first, but once they know how you’re feeling they can support you.
Knowing how everyone is feeling before you meet means you can spend more time enjoying each other’s company rather than worrying about how you can keep safe.
You may feel safer continuing to give people who do not live with you plenty of space. This is okay, but it might be more difficult to do this at certain times of day.
If you would prefer to continue social distancing, you may choose to travel at non-peak times. If you need to go to the shops and other enclosed spaces you could try and pick a time that is less busy, like the evening.
If you’re meeting with friends, family, or colleagues, you can explain to them that you would prefer social distancing for now. It can help to tell them in advance to avoid any confusion.
We know for many autistic children and young people, wearing a mask has been difficult to get used to but some may feel more comfortable continuing to wear a mask.
Or you might want to wear a mask in more crowded situations like:
- getting on public transport
- going to the supermarket
- you are in an area where coronavirus cases are rising.
You might find it difficult to be around people who are not wearing a mask, but remember, you can only control your actions.
Let someone you trust know that you are feeling nervous. They might be able to accompany you until you feel more confident again.
We know a lot of autistic children and young people can find crowded events and spaces overwhelming. Remember to go at your own pace, and only go to a busy space when you feel comfortable doing so.
If it’s possible, you can try and social distance, and wear a mask to protect yourself. It can be helpful to stand near a door so you can leave if you start to feel uncomfortable or anxious.
You may want to bring a trusted friend with you for support.
Your employer will have things in place to make you feel safe when you return to the office.
It can be helpful to speak to your manager to find out what those measures will be, so you know what to expect. You could ask them to send you some photos of the office beforehand.
If you’re worried about getting on public transport, you could travel outside of peak times or go back to the workplace one or two days a week at first.
Remember to let your employer know that you are worried so they can offer you additional support. They should support your decision to go at your own pace.
It’s great that you can now see friends and family and visit places that you haven’t been able to go to for a long time.
But it can be a lot to take in so remember to take time for yourself and relax in-between.
It’s very normal to feel worried about things changing but sometimes our negative thoughts are unhelpful.
Try to turn negative thoughts into more helpful thoughts, for example:
The un-helpful thought
“My friends will think I’m silly if I continue to wear a mask and social distance.”
The helpful thought
“My friends will support my decision to continue to wear a mask and social distance because they want me to feel comfortable around them.”
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to come out of lockdown. It’s important to go at your own pace and only do things that you feel comfortable with.
You can read more information on looking after your health and wellbeing.
If you’re struggling and need more support, it’s important to reach out to someone you trust like a friend, parent or your GP.