It has been a while since I shared a part of myself through my story in this blog series. And then I also like to come back with a topic that often occurs during the holiday period, also during the festival season, holidays etc. What does large crowds mean to me with my autism, and how do I deal with it? I would like to explain to you in this blog, I also try to give a number of tips that help me.
The phenomenon crowded in different situations.
Every person experiences crowds in his or her own way, just like I do. But busyness can take on different meanings for everyone. So you have the crowds of many people in a limited place, but also crowds in the sense of many things that have to be arranged within a limited time. And I also have a very hard time with pressures in different ways. It quickly makes me overstimulated, chaotic but also ensures that I go into an automatic mode to avoid the stimuli or, as some think / say, flee.
We can therefore not forget the busyness in our lives. A few examples are my trips over the last few weeks, such as the Bierfeesten in Oudenaarde, Europafeesten in Tielt, but also just going for a drink in a summer bar in Bruges.
How do I experience crowds?
Huge crowds are bad for me physically and I also feel my physical energy being absorbed. But my head also becomes very blurry, so that I am no longer fully present. Sometimes this is also annoying when there are friends who notice what is going on but I don’t hear their questions because of the too many environmental sounds and stimuli. But how do I manage to turn this around? I have custom earphones that already reduce the noise by 80% so that I can still enjoy a performance or a performance. But also that I can still talk with friends on a terrace and the incentives are reduced.
But I also experience stress very quickly when a lot has to be arranged in the short term. This is often noticeable in my job as a technician. There I also have plenty of handy tools to reduce stress and pressure. For example, I work with a priority list so that the right things take precedence over the things that are not decisive for the output to the loading docks. This was therefore a tool that was set up with managers, personnel department and colleagues. If something should be given priority, this will be communicated by telephone so that I am aware that something has to be done. Of course we also have plenty of things that can be very noisy and for that I always wear my in-ears that reduce the noise but I still stay alert for upcoming dangers.
Do I always suffer from pressure and stimuli?
I always have a hard time in busy times. It often also depends on how the environment is laid out and whether I can quickly move to less crowded zones. If we take the examples of the last trips, I had less trouble in Oudenaarde than in Tielt. Because the terrain in Oudenaarde was also much larger. Tielt was very tight for the scheduled performances with too many fans, visitors. This then gives an overstimulation, oppressive feeling and chaos more quickly. Yet I try to apply a number of techniques and tools, such as noise-reducing earphones from Earazerz. I always have someone with me to support me in those more difficult times. I often go away from the hustle and bustle to find peace and to catch my breath. It is also important to me that I know all the exits, that I know where I can find something to drink, eat, and sanitary facilities. That I also know exactly when what happens and where so that I can always keep an overview for myself.
The physical impact afterwards
Afterwards I also notice the physical impact that is often underestimated or ignored by others. Headaches, muscle aches, insomnia are just a few examples of the impact. But in addition, the point also comes that I get physically quite exhausted. That’s why I always make sure I have a quiet day planned the next day. This way I can recover sufficiently from the activities.
- Make sure you have someone with you with the knowledge of your autism and who knows how best to react in more difficult moments
- Find the right aids such as noise-reducing earphones
- Make sure you have a good plan
- Explore the event online in advance, but also go to the location earlier so that you can have a look around first.
- Drink enough and if it is a longer event eat enough so that your energy level is maintained.