Facing COVID-19 with Asperger’s: Chris’s story

Last published 4 November 2020

Routine. More routine. It’s what we thrive on. We need routine like we need to breathe. Coronavirus has taken that away. My whole life has been turned upside down. The isolation and staying home is not an issue – I do that anyway – but on my terms where I can control it. Take away control and you take away my central raison d'être.

I can’t control the virus any more than I can control the wind. So adapting to a new way of life is extremely difficult. It will happen – in time. Time. New situations are impossibly difficult at times, and the fact that most of the world is going through this doesn’t help me. I still have to face this on my terms. (Here is a prime example where people with Asperger’s can lack empathy.)

So how is a person with Asperger’s supposed to cope? Adopt a new routine. There is no other choice. Fitness plays a large part of my life and, with the gyms and pools closed, I have to resort to dumbbell exercises in the garden. I’ve also taken down my bike and got that going. And the one positive outcome is I have developed my stretching routines after failing to do so for the better part of 20 years.

I don’t like this change. In fact, I hate it. I have two choices: (1) Fight it and refuse to adapt and weather the storm. The problem there is that my bad moods and negative outlook will snowball out of control. (2) Adapt – but be very specific how I plan to do that.

Write it down. Keep a calendar. Keep a diary. Have a plan. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Be flexible in your planning and don’t give up if one day doesn’t go exactly as planned. Be good to yourself – you’re under an undue amount of strain that NTs can take in their stride. Know that you’re doing the best you can. Be happy with that.

I once read a quote: “Don’t judge people by the choices they make when you don’t know the options they had to choose from.” Carrying on with the only life we know is not one of our options.

Serendipity is the art of discovering something you weren’t searching for. Be serendipitous. You never know what you will find. Know that your routines will come back and more than likely you will be better at them. You will be stronger. You will wonder how you did your routines without the knowledge that COVID-19 provided you. This virus is a brutal teacher: it gives you the test first and the lesson later.

Be strong. We can do this. Asperger’s unite! As Charles Darwin so eloquently put it: “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

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