Transitions & How to Deal With Them On The Autism Spectrum
By Zach Rodencal
Change Vs Transition
Transition is a natural part of life, something everyone goes through multiple times while they are alive. Both transition and change are difficult for people but are especially difficult for those on the Spectrum. To better establish what transition is, one must understand how it is different from change, or rather is a part of it. Change is when a shift in a person’s life is going to occur in the future. It can be small, like a shift in your usually travelled route, or big like your parents are moving to Italy and you need to find a new place to live. Transition, however, is the process or period of changing from one state to another. In other words, change would be moving from one house to another, while transition would be dealing with the move and adjusting to what comes after.
Now that transition has been defined and understood, I will go into detail on how to deal with it. These methods are mostly for my situation but can be generalized for others on the Spectrum. To give further clarity, I will use a recent situation I had to deal with as an example of transition and how I dealt with it that could be of use.
Just recently, I have moved from where I was living in Florida to live with my brother in Huntsville, Alabama. This was because my parents are moving to live in Italy for a job opportunity, where they will be for 2 years. As a result, I could no longer live with my parents as I had been doing since COVID-19 hit and while I was completing my last year of semester of college. I decided that I would move in with my brother and search for a job in Huntsville, with the possibility of following my parents to Italy later in the future. I made the move on October 20th, arriving at my new home around 5 PM.
Anyway, after the move was completed, I had to adjust to my new living space, noting the differences in weather, structure, positioning, and layout that would affect my routine and how I lived. Being that it was Alabama, it is much colder than in Florida, so I have needed to change my daily wear to be heavier to deal with the colder temperatures, wearing socks constantly to keep my feet warm. I have had to adjust to an entirely new bed, had to decorate my new room, carving out an area in the house as my own, and deal with the stray dog hairs from the brother’s dog Maddie. I have had to find a way to continue my previous exercise regime, which has been a bit difficult as unlike in my old house, I must go out of my way to exercise as I have in the past. Most importantly I have had to deal with change in my meals, as my brother does not know what kind of foods I will tolerate as much as my parent’s know. These and more have been the difficulties I have had to deal with since I moved.
Ways to Better Cope
From this, I have found what helps me deal with the difficulties of the transition, though these mostly apply with moving. First, for new houses, find a spot you like and claim it as yours. It is always nice to have your own space or a spot you like to spend your time in. This area or spot is the place you can use to retreat into your own world or hobbies, where you can be in your happy place. For my new house, I use the reclining chair in the living room. It can recline, is comfortable, and has a great view of the television so I can watch it while I am on my computer. This will be different for other people, especially as the houses will be different and they have different coping mechanisms, but it is important for people to find their own spots that they can call their own in which they are comfortable.
Another way is to find things about the new house/situation that you like that your old house/situation did not have. In my case, there are many things I have found so far that are better in this house than in my old one. First is the reclining chair I have claimed as my spot, which is much more comfortable than my previous spot. The television is better, with access to many more channels and streaming services thanks to my brother being more interested in a wider range of options than my parents are, so I can stream almost everything I want. Another thing is that I am much closer to food stores and my favorite fast food chain than I was in Florida. In Florida, the closest grocery store was 15 minutes away while the closet Chick-fil-a was 40 minutes away. In Huntsville, the closest grocery store is 2minutes away with Chick-fil-a being 12 minutes away. The point is to look at the positive aspects of the new situation rather than focus on the negatives, as that makes transition much easier.
Finally, as I have said in my previous blog on stress: exercise regularly. By exercising regularly, you burn off excess energy and tension in your body. Transitions are naturally a time where more tension builds up than during times where you are used to everything and not stressed out. This will keep all the stress and tension of the new situation from boiling over and becoming something you can’t deal with. I generally do multiple sets of push-ups and lift 15-pound bar bells, along with going on regular walks and runs to get my heart pumping.
These are how I dealt with the recent major transition in my life, methods that can hopefully be of use for you and others who might be going through big transitions in their lives. While some cannot be used exactly as I did for some transitions, the methods can be adjusted to fit the person. These are what helped me, but I am my own person and what works for me might not work for others. If what I gave doesn’t work, try adjusting it or finding your own way to deal with transition. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it helps — that is what matters.
I am Zach Rodencal, a recent graduate from Florida Polytechnic University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Data Analytics. I am diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism and ADHD. I am interested in anime and reading Fanfiction online. I am currently looking for a job to begin my career, but I am also looking for what I am passionate about and wish to spend most of my life doing. I hope to get to know you all very well.