Being in lockdown for well over a month has given me the chance to do many different things. I have been learning sign language, something I have been meaning to do for years and finally have the time and the attention span to deal with.
Sign language is great, so many of the signs are exactly what you think. Hello is a wave, good is thumbs up and anyone who has attended a kid’s party could correctly guess what monkey and lion would be.
Also, I have drunk nothing but water for the whole of April and it has made no difference at all. I keep hearing stories of virtuous people whose lives have been changed by the power of the H20 diet, but my energy, sleep and general wellbeing remain unchanged. I find this reassuring as water is so dull, I am quite pleased. What has been more interesting is what have learned about autistic me.
Firstly, the concept of ‘now’, ‘next’ and ‘future’. I need a task to do ‘now’, the thing at the top of the list. I cannot have a time where there is nothing to do, even if it is something really small like getting a drink. Then I need a ‘next’ task, what I will do after the ‘now’ thing is done. I find it extremely hard to change these two things once they are decided, anything else will need to wait until the ‘now’ and ‘next’ are completed. Everything else is ‘future’, this is a massively flexible jumble of stuff, sometimes as lists other times just floating around my brain. The most urgent of the ‘future’ tasks will be promoted into the ‘next’ space but never into ‘now’.
Secondly, ‘spoons’ and ‘stims’. I didn’t really understand this is so widely used in the autistic community, but it is a way of self-measuring. Spoons are energy, making sure there is enough energy to complete whatever tasks need doing, knowing what I can cope with. Too much sensory input can lead me to run out of spoons and shutdown. Stims are the repetitive movements I do, foot tapping, playing with bits of Sellotape or stroking my neck are three classics for me. The more stressed I get, the more I stim. I hadn’t known this was a classic autistic trait until this week and it has been so interesting to learn more about myself.
There are so many things I still want to do before the end of lockdown. Now, I can do anything I plan for, I am completely self-contained, there is nothing from the outside trying to change my ‘now’ and ‘next’. I don’t want to shout it too loud but I am very happy right now.