Mar 21, 2014 0 Share

Unfamiliar Territory


Young man walking into hotel room.
Thinkstock

Some may say it’s the luck of the Irish, but March has been a VERY lucky month for me. For the past three weekends I’ve been able to go out and enjoy some down time with friends at parties. This type of thing seems to rarely happen anymore. Between work, my next book coming out and a bunch of other random projects, time has become very limited. I’ve been thrilled with the opportunities to catch up with some people I haven’t seen in a while. 

One thing I always feel I need to adjust to when this happens though is the change in my routine. Driving to places far away and getting home at random hours of the night can sometimes be very taxing. This month one of the bigger challenges for me has been sleeping in beds I’m not used to. Each weekend in March I’ve gone out to a party and each weekend I’ve gone back to stay in a hotel room that my friends have rented for the night. My senses are usually at a heightened level because of different rooms with their temperatures, the amount of space in the rooms, and the bed that I’m sleeping in. Anything different than the norm of my own room at home makes me feel uneasy. 

When it comes to strategies I really don’t have anything that stands out to help me in these situations. The main thing I try to do is to have as much fun as possible. Being in a fun situation usually eases most of the sensory stuff I am going through. The problems remain but they are manageable. The other strategy I use is to think out a play-by-play plan of what could happen during the night. I like to map out when it will start, when it will end and then think through some transitions I may have to go through until it does end. Elevators have never been easy for me, and I try to make sure I am never in an elevator alone, and I do check where the exits are, and am careful to keep my key. 

This is something I advocate for rather frequently when it comes to adults with autism. For those who may be in similar situations to me I hope to build awareness regarding different living situations in housing or even a hotel room for the night. I think it’s important for hotels and motels to be able to provide accommodations for those with autism if they need it. Things like offering a room in the corner of a building where it may not be as loud can make a big difference. With my work with my nonprofit, KFM Making a Difference, I hope to create some type of toolkit to help those with autism make decisions in their favor when assessing living situations like this. 

I’m curious to hear if others in the AA16 community have had similar difficulties. After reflecting on this, I am looking ahead to this coming summer. I’ll be traveling for speaking engagements in May, June and July and taking two different vacations with my family in August and September. What are some strategies you would suggest to help?