We are all doing our best to maintain the health of ourselves, our families, communities, and the world at large. The phrase “social distancing” has been used a lot lately to encourage people to stay home in efforts to stop the spread, but it’s a misnomer. We need to practice physical distancing, NOT social distancing. Let me explain.
Autism or not, staying in the house can be very hard for some people.
A week ago, my friend texted me to say she was having an anxiety attack from being so alone in her house. She’s a very social person and enjoys going to different classes, meets with friends, and goes to church almost daily. She makes a trip to the supermarket a social event because so many people know her, stop her, and they all talk. Sometimes it takes her 2 hours to just pick up a few things from the store but she loves it.
So when I got this text, I immediately FaceTimed her. I don’t like seeing people in pain, especially my friends, so we talked for a while and joked around. We laughed about things, but then she stopped and said how she misses this in real life.
Some autism families have been socially distancing as a way to cope.
I remember those days of missing “in real life” connection. When my daughter was first diagnosed with autism it was really hard to do anything with her. I started declining invitations to family parties, then friend’s children parties came next, then I declined “Mom’s night out” invitations because people talked about their children too much. It was so painful to not be able to share similar stories with my friends. You, as an autism parent, might have done something similar.
I socially distanced myself back then to avoid more pain however right now it’s not social distancing that we are being asked to do. The wrong term is being used and many people are feeling lonely and disconnected.
We need to practice physical distancing right now. Not social distancing! 🙂
Connection in these stressful times actually helps our immune system. If I had to pick between a supplement or connection, I’d choose connection as a way to boost my immune system and lower stress. Luckily, we have technology that allows us in so many low-cost ways to connect with people. Churches are live-streaming their masses. Yoga classes are being held online. FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, WhatApp and so many other apps are available to help us stay connected. And, at the very least, is the good old telephone! Reach out and call someone.
My virtual friends
Many years ago I did socially distance myself because of our situation however I hated feeling lonely. That lonely feeling made me hate autism even more, back then. My solution was to create strong friendships but virtually. I took an online class and became very close with 3 other women taking the same class. We were from different parts of the world and knew that “in real life” we’d never be friends but all of us were craving friendship so we created a virtual weekly talk time. We were physically so apart but that was all. Technology helped us form deep and strong friendships and I still speak to my “virtual” friends once a week.
This current situation is different in some ways but the same to many of us autism parents. We’ve felt alone for a long time. We know how to distance ourselves to preserve our future.
The connecting game
Times are very uncertain now and it doesn’t help me to focus on negative thoughts so I’ve made a game for myself out of physical distancing. Each day I call or FaceTime with someone I haven’t spoken to in over a year. I can only call one person a day; this way I have anticipation for the next day, and the next day, and the next day…no matter how long this physical distancing is needed. No binge calling. hehe And it’s calling to connect not complain. It’s all about laughs, smiles, and connection.
If you’re stressed out, worried, or overwhelmed, play this game with me! It’s fun. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in over a year and see how many laughs you can create! See how connected you can feel even when keeping physical distance.
And if you want to double the connection, email me and tell me how your calls are going. I love to laugh so if you have something funny to share from your calls, hit reply and let me know.
Regardless of where you are in the autism healing journey, you can still have connection. You’ve gotten through many tough times with autism so far and you will get through physical distancing. You can do this!