Autism does weird stuff when you’re overwhelmed.
I love swimming, it’s why we are travelling for the commonwealth games but when you’re autistic the things you love can get overwhelming.
I had forgotten to pack my swimmers, mistake number one, so I had to get new ones. The ones I got were in a style I don’t usually wear and I had to get shorts to wear over them, another new thing. I usually swim in indoor, chlorinated pools or the ocean and I was in an outdoor, salt water pool.
The water was cold and too shallow for me to swim in properly, I tried backstroke but the new swimmers plus the hot/cold contrast from the air and water started to cause sensory overwhelm. I couldn’t swim and I was desperate for the familiar feeling of the water, not a good time. I (thankfully) was able to verbalise the overwhelm and mum found an amazing alternative, the spa!
It was warm, chlorinated, under cover and deep enough to cover my whole body. Definite win. I spent a long time in the spa and by the time i got out the overwhelm from earlier and the anxiety of being in an unfamiliar place had passed.
Autism is funny sometimes, in the way that it makes little things, like the lack of chlorine in the pool, feel distressing.
So next time you see a person with autism trying a new thing, think about all the smaller new things inside it, you never know how much energy it’s taking them just to try.