Live and Unplugged
As residents of the futuristic world of 2015, (where’s my hoverboard dammit) I’m sure most of us can relate to feeling a bit of withdrawal when stripped of the technology we’ve become almost cybernetically dependent on.
For those of us on the spectrum, this feeling can be greatly amplified, as our computers, phones, and video games can be coping mechanisms; temporary refuges from a world of often unbearable sensory stimuli.
Last week, my laptop of 4 years, which was always a shoddy, pain-in-the-gluteus-maximus potatocake, decided to have the computer equivalent of an aneurysm. I’d seen the warning signs coming for a while, but I kept putting it off taking it to the shop for repairs, because I knew it would probably take several days, and I didn’t think I could cope for that long without it.
Left with no choice, however, I reluctantly handed it over, and braced myself for a grueling digital detox. And you know what? It wasn’t actually that bad, because weeks of dreading it had built it up to the point where the thought was scarier than the thing itself.
The trick is to find alternative coping strategies. For example, I went old school and used pen and paper at my work desk in place of my laptop. In addition to still being able to get work done, thus alleviated the stress I felt at falling behind on my deadlines, I found that scribbling notes and drawings based on my special interests was actually a great substitute for exploring these topics online.
Books were another helpful lifeline; I usually read on the train anyway, but doing so at home as well helped satisfy that hunger for information the internet normally fulfills.
Change, particularly the removal of coping tools for an indeterminate amount of time, can be a terrifying prospect to people on the spectrum, but discomfort can be minimized by planning ahead and having backup strategies in place.