If there's one thing most people know about autism, it's that it and change do not mesh well. One thing people may not realise, however, is that even positive changes can throw our lives and minds into turbulence, often leading to strange or unwanted behaviours; big changes in an individual's life may even lead to depression.
As an adult looking back throughout my childhood and adolescent years, it's easy to see the triggers behind certain periods of erratic behaviours - divorce/my father leaving lead to a disastrous change in behaviour back in early childhood (I believe I was 5 at the time), every time I changed teachers or classes, or a new person entered my life. When I changed schools at 13, I developed a phobia of the new school and my attendance went from 95%+ to 0% over the course of 3 months. I haven't been able to handle any education setting for more than a few months since - even then, it's hit and miss over whether I can overcome the anxiety that plagues me when I think about entering a classroom.
When my therapist passed away, I fell into a pattern of substance abuse and extremely negative behaviour - I lost all sense of myself for months, until a friend pulled me out of it, and I slowly adjusted to life without my old friend.
When my partner moved in, I became a nervous wreck - in part because my "safe place" was no longer mine, but in part because of the sheer shock of how much change had to take place to take the next step in our relationship.
And this week, because we've adopted two beautiful baby bearded dragons and have their vivarium set up in our room, I'm back in "that place" again. My brain is scattered and I'm regularly forgetting daily tasks I'd previously "nailed". I'm losing words, more anxious than usual and seem to be ready to snap at all times. I even feel physically worse - the pain in my joints seem even more acute, my body's aching like I spent the entirety of yesterday in the gym and my sensory "issues" are even more prominent - ears buzzing, headaches from simple daylight, completely intolerant to light touch and the feel of most fabrics setting my teeth on edge.
I'm desperately trying to keep a hold on myself and just. stay. calm.
But it's not quite that simple when your whole being has been affected. I'm sure many of you will relate to the fear of change - it's not an unusual trait in people. Even if you don't quite experience the full range of reaction's I've mentioned (though I'm certain quite a few of you will), it's easy to understand the new and often bizarre behaviour that can crop up when a change is made or just happens in a person's life when it's explained by those who experience it. I'd like to invite anyone who does to share their thoughts too; sharing your experiences may help others in the same situation, at the very least it brings solidarity and comfort to others who'd otherwise feel alone.
Hopefully I'll adjust to life with our new friends soon - I'm otherwise extremely positive about their arrival, very excited to be caring for them and literally bouncing with the want to hold them, feed them and watch them 24/7. I think the children may be feeling a tad shut out, as they're also acting out more than usual. Or maybe I'm just more sensitive to it. Who knows? Perhaps our new additions to the family have inadvertently caused a reaction in them too. Despite the upheaval their arrival's caused, you can't deny they're definitely sweet enough to be worth it.