Being an autistic individual while the global COVID-19 crisis falls upon us has brought up a plethora of new uncertainties that could send anyone’s life (ND and NT individuals alike) spiralling into disarray. A big issue that’s on the table is food, pun intended. While looming government-issued isolations weigh upon us, many people are scrambling to stock up. Reputable sources are recommending a two to four week supply of non-perishable food in each household. How might this affect autistic individuals?
First off, many of us are unemployed and don’t have the luxury of buying so much food at one time. Coupled with a need to feel stable and find a sense of control, this could be a hard time for autistic individuals that naturally forget to eat. Let’s resist the urge to cut back on food to save money and gain false control. If it’s hard to stock up on your favorite food, brainstorm frozen and canned alternatives. It’s okay to not eat perfectly healthy right now and to treat yourself to favorites that are reserved for special occasions. I think it’s safe to say that self-containment is a unique circumstance that counts as a special occasion.
Secondly, if you’re more like me, you might have a penchant for oral stims. With life slowing down, it can be tempting to quickly chow down on the stocked up food in order to stim the way back to calmness. But food costs money, and the point of buying a large supply is to make it last! Try drinking stimulating beverages like fizzy drinks or hot water to stim. If oral stim toys work for you, give it a try (personally, they hurt my teeth). Chew gum, suck on hard candies, or eat large bowls of hearty soups. Timing meals may help, but try not to get too regimented and hyperfocused on a food schedule.