Turbulent times

Stephen McHugh
This post was last updated on
August 17, 2022
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PinDue to the significant impacts of a current pandemic throughout the world, I felt it necessary to do something different and share my thoughts and feelings on the pandemic from on autistic's point of view.

Being on the autistic spectrum can present great challenges for you in your daily life, loved ones and friends. But at any time there are many things going on in the world that cause us to feel anxious. And this can be even worse when the eventual impacts of such things are extremely difficult to predict.


Right now I can’t think of any other things causing us more anxiety and uncertainty than the coronavirus pandemic happening throughout the world. Anxiety for those of us on the autistic spectrum can be a problem, and the fear of the coronavirus pandemic may well make it worse. One possibility could be linked to fear of getting it and dwelling on the worst possible outcome. The sort of questions we might think of could be, are listed below.

How long will this go on for?

How many cases and deaths will there be?

What might happen to me if I get it? Would I die?

I wouldn't recommend reading, watching or listening to the news too much, except maybe once or twice a day, like in the mornings and evenings. There can be too much conflicting advice there, creating even more worry for you. Instead, do any things that you enjoy and interest you to take your mind away from it. These pieces of advice came from a woman on the autistic spectrum here and resonated with me. It seems she’s been on an interesting journey to me.


For those of us on the autistic spectrum, it is not uncommon for routine to be particularly important. Amongst us, any unexpected change to that can lead to disappointment or upset. I used to have those tendencies when I was young, but they don’t nearly affect me now as much as they did back then.

As time went on I began to understand better that changes are part of everyday life, and happen for good reason too. It is also a reminder that there will inevitably be times when big sacrifices have to be made throughout our lives. These changes have been implemented for good reason, our safety. And at the same time, it can be very difficult to satisfy everyone making unexpected changes to routine. We also need to learn how to be sensitive to the needs of others.

Other interests

As well as anxiety, an event such as this can bring about changes in many different ways. I would normally go swimming and practice my golf at a local driving range at various times during the week. However, the coronavirus outbreak means I haven’t been able to do these activities for a while.

But I can still go out for a walk in the fresh air and listen to nature. That’s an example of one form of exercise we can do, provided we adhere to the relevant Government guidelines. My new interest in photography leads me to photographing nature based subjects, like coloured or interesting shaped clouds in the sky. I can also practise my golf swing in the back garden where I live. Being warned in advance of any potential changes can greatly reduce the chances of a negative response.

I’ve been using this period as an opportunity to improve my computer skills and put my interest in logic to use. I’ve created a spreadsheet to record the number of cases related to the coronavirus outbreak on a daily basis to create my own model. My plan is to study the trends and make my own predictions, and do my own related calculations. So I find it helps to have several other interests to fall back on and develop. Some functions I've developed include being able to calculate:

dates when a number of cases will reach a chosen value;

the average of cases and deaths per week and the current R value for weeks gone by;

the average number of vaccines to take place per day if a chosen number of vaccinations is to be reached by a chosen date;

predictions on the likely number of deaths on a certain date based on a rate at a particular time;

the increase number of cases and deaths by certain amounts between two chosen dates; and

the number of days of falls and rises in both hospital admissions and those in hospital with the virus between two chosen dates.


The pandemic has, no doubt, made life very hard for us in many different ways, and we have all had to adapt accordingly in our own ways.  It had created plenty in terms of anxiety too. But we must not let a period like this get us down. Ways of doing this can be going out in the fresh air for exercise and doing things we may enjoy. You could even use times like this productively to improve your skills, and even learn and develop new ones. Examples here for me were to develop my existing computer skills, whilst aiming to improve my writing and language skills.  So yes, it goes to show we mustn't lose hope and give up in times of worry and uncertainty.


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