Prepare to enter the wild and wooly world of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by intellignce, quirks, social difficulties and downright strange and oddish behaviours.

People with Aspergers generally are high functioning in everyday life but have great difficulty connecting with others due to the inability to read faces, body language and subtle verbal clues. They also tend to take words literally and have a hard time multi-tasking.

Oversensitivity to touch (clothing has to be soft and often the tags removed), light (do not leave home without the sunglasses), sound (loud noises and noisey places are avoided), taste (many Aspies have quite a limited diet and are frequently very picky eaters) and smells makes the everyday existence more of a challenge.

Fasten your seatbelts and come on in...
To find out more about what Aspergers is..please check out my earliest blog entries

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Strategies for Traveling.....Aspergers

I have done an amazing amount of travel and overnighters this past year. I think back to how challenging it was to pack for a two day conference last April. It literally took me three days to figure out what I needed to bring. Now, it's a completely different story. It only takes me an hour or two to pack because I have an understanding of what my needs are.
I have developed a number of strategies that make traveling easier for me. When I know I will be driving long distances, I stop at our local library and pick up two or three books on CD. I enjoyed listening to Orwells "Animal Farm" and some Hans Christian Anderson. This last visit I brought along three different ones, making sure I had a variety because I never know what I will be in the mood to listen to, but I never got around to listening to any of them. I preferred the radio, a favorite CD to listen to repeatedly to keep me calm (the repetition gives my restless brain something to "anchor" onto) and even at times, silence.
To feel more in control, I keep paper and pen handy and write the mileage from one city or landmark to the next. I've also written down the mile marker numbers for every rest stop and sometimes noted which one has which vending machines or snacks that I like. After so many long trips north, I even know which rest stops have those horridly noisey hand dryers and remember to just use hand sanitizer so as not to hurt my ears. I tend to make very routine stops for gas and coffee at the same, familiar stations and fast food places. It's a pattern of familiarity, hence each time I travel to the same place, I am more at ease and know what to expect.
Whilst technically I am traveling alone, I carry small "travel companions". My first companion was Thor, a four inch toy figure. He has his magic hammer mjorah which has "lightning power". Others who have enjoyed traveling with me are Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Captain America, the three small glow-in-the-dark woodland fairies and this last trip....wait for it...Lego WonderWoman!!! I don't feel alone with my Superhero friends:)
Something that I have found that profoundly helps me when I am nervous or anxious, I make videos with my phone or camera. Depending on my level of anxiety I can also upload them to Facebook or YouTube. Doing so helps me to feel connected to others. I have eight short videos of me crossing the Big Mac bridge if that tells you anything.
When staying overnight at hotels, I always ask for a room on the first floor as I get exceedingly nervous the farther I am off the ground. I strongly dislike housekeeping in my room so I always tell the front desk no maid service and I keep the "do not disturb" sign firmly on the door. Once in my room I tend to keep the television on at all times with familiar stations and shows. My clothes never leave me suitcase. It's an Aspie thing but my clothes never go into the drawers. That would be wrong.
I bring my own bar of soap and shampoo although I very rarely shower as the shower apparatus can be difficult to figure out and sometimes shower heads are just plain weirdy. I have to be exceptionally dirty to shower. My own hand towels and washcloths come with me as well. I bring All my own food, drinks and snacks. I have a gallon jug that I fill and refill my smaller bottles with. Every place, every city and town has different tasting water. The bigger cities typically have very chemical tasting tap water. Hotel towels are almost always bleachy, rough and unpleasant.
Due to my food allergies, some severe enough to require hospitalization if I ingest the wrong substance, and my gluten and soy free diet, it's just easier to bring my own food which I know to be safe instead of reading labels. It's a no-brainier and incredibly stress free to simply bring my own. I bring along my own silverware, sometimes plastic, sometimes normal tableware and usually a plate or bowl.
My favorite blankie and pillow always travel with me. No scratchy, smelly industrially washed and overly used sheets for me. These two items alone provide immense comfort and security. My iPhone and iPad are forever with me in my backpack in addition to any and all meds I'm on. Xanax is a must have. One can usually find a spare bottle in my car as well as in my backpack.
When I leave my car for any reason, I carry my keys, in my hand, constantly. It's partly a fidget, partly something familiar to hold and I have a terrible fear of locking myself out far, far from home.
Clothing wise, I like to bring a lot of clothes because I never know what I will feel like wearing and there is no crime or inconvenience in bringing four or five shirts for a two-day affair...comfort and security is key and oft times that amounts to lots of clothes.
I try and do things that may seem odd to the Nt, but that make my life and travels easier. On more than one occasion I have slept in my clothes. Frequently the television is left on all night for the noise, the companionship and as a nightlight. I reward myself with little incentives, prizes or treasures. Going up north, I always buy myself a ball cap, sometimes I'll even buy a small toy. This last trip I even bought those little gold stars in case I needed to reward myself.
Okay, so it is a bit complicated but it makes traveling easier and this is just a matter of course for me. This is how I roll:)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post! There are not a lot of tips for travel with Asperger's out there. My loved one with Asperger's is getting ready for his first business trip. Out of the country and he has only flown once on a short trip. Trying to find tips to help him, so I really appreciate your post.