AUTISTIC NICKS PREPARES TO GO CHRISTMAS SHOPPING
Christmas is literally around the corner and this year I am determined not to repeat myself by heading out on a Saturday in a 34-degree heat.
As soon as I stepped out of the car (I was with a support worker) and the hot fiery heat had slapped me in the face did I begin to regret my decision.
That wasn’t my original plan, but an event that I was meant to go to was cancelled at the last minute and so I regrettably made a decision that I came to regret.
Every summer I am reminded of my poor choice as I lay asleep at night and scream out no, no!!
Once out of the car, I was hit by the gust of hot air coming from the automatic doors and the stampede of customers who for them having four trolleys full of food and gifts wasn’t enough and so it became a game of avoiding those and not getting hit by their trolleys.
CROWDED SHOPPING CENTRE AT CHRISTMAS IN AUSTRALIA
This year however I took a different stance and have planned ahead!
I started out by asking for lists from people (there’s three in my family) so a short list!
When I got my sisters list, I went and spoke to my mum, and we decided which bits/gifts we’d get and when I got my mum’s list I did the same with my sister.
I next made a budget and worked out which of the gifts from the various lists I could afford.
I also have to factor in that it is also my mum and my brother’s birthday in the same month!
I know right!
On my phone I have something called notes and if you sync them up you can send a note through to someone and so that’s what my sister did for me.
She was the one buying most of my gifts online and to make it easier for me to understand what I had bought and what I needed to buy she created a note and made headings for each person and underneath those headings what gifts I bought them.
She then wrote the word GOT by the gifts that I had already paid for (to her) and then she wrote NICK TO GET by the ones that I will be braving the weekday shopping centre to go and buy!
The way it is set out is easy for me to understand and I can access it from my phone saving me having to carry around a piece of paper and a pen!
I am also taking a support worker with me but as I say I am going on a Monday so fingers crossed it will be quiet and I can think and not be bombarded by people who cannot cope with the shops closing for one day and thinking in a blind panic that they’ll run out of food or that those 12 trolleys they filled to the top won’t be enough on the day!
I also have strategies in place for being in a shopping centre.
Shopping centres are the worst place for an Autistic person to be in especially around the Christmas period.
As soon as you enter one of these places I know that I am being intentionally slaughtered with bright lights and music to influence my buying decisions then add to that the loud PA announcements, songs blaring out about how happy families are for the festive period, crashing trolleys, changes in temperature, smells from the bakery, deli, gardening department, butcher, seafood, staff with their large oversized trolleys parked in aisles in the way filling shelves that you have to carefully manoeuvre around… and it attacks me from all angles.
IDENTIFY, DISCUSS, AND WORK ON POTENTIAL SENSORY TRIGGERS IN ADVANCE
Identify potential sensory triggers and discuss expectations for those situations as well as solutions that might be possible. For example, a noisy, crowded shopping mall could be a trigger – expectations could revolve around the time spent there, problem-solving could include negotiating stores differently or discussing an exit-plan.
DEALING WITH BEING STRESSED
FOUR SKILLS FOR MANAGING STRESSFUL SITUATIONS
These are Awareness, Acceptance, Coping and Action skills. Some skills may be more useful in certain situations. Each skill may be explained better using a situation which a person may face in real life.
This is getting a clearer understanding of the situation and how it affects the person.
Acknowledging that you are getting stressed and being realistic about the effects that it is having on you e.g., what aspects are within your control, and which are out of your control and then working out if these are or important/unimportant.
Preparing to cope with the stressful situation by learning various strategies. Identify what changes you can make to control the situation and reduce stress levels.
Actively making changes to counteract or reduce the level of stress.
Proper breathing habits are essential for good mental and physical health. First, a person needs to focus upon their breathing pattern.
So now all I need to do is to prepare myself for the worst but know that I have the tools and a support worker with me if things get too much.
Carry on the Conversation
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.