While we know that each autistic has their own individual brand of autism, there are a few things that we can all agree upon. For example, the importance of stimming, the desire for alone time, the need for time to process, and the significance of time in nature.
Another thing we all agree on is that there are certain items that we simply will not leave the house without. Much like a toolbox, we fill a bag of choice with a few things that we can be lifesavers out in the overwhelming neurotypical world.
A peek inside any of our toolboxes would reveal a lot of the same objects. Sure, the items will differ in color, size, and shape. And, of course, there will be a few items that are unique to the individual. But, for the most part, there are some basic autistic lifesavers that the majority of us cannot be found without.
If you don’t have a toolbox of your own or are looking to improve on the toolbox you have, here are some must-have items that can make the loud neurotypical world a little quieter.
1. Sunglasses: I dare you to find an autistic that doesn’t arm themselves with a simple pair of sunglasses. Putting on a pair of sunglasses in bright or artificial light can be a game-changer. Headaches can become a thing of the past with a pair of sunglasses in your bag. Use them inside or outside, and they can help extend the time you can tolerate a space.
2. Ear Plugs: This little helpful devices come in many forms. From foam ones that are cheap but disposable to fancy ones that have their own carrying case, they are a must for leaving the controlled environment of the home. Bus too loud? No problem. Grab your earplugs and muffle the sound out.
3. Noise Cancelling Headphones: Not to be confused with earplugs, noise-canceling headphones literally cancel out the ambient noise around you for pure silence. Most also have the ability to play the sound you want to hear. Whether it’s a tv program, music, or sounds of nature, being able to control your auditory input is a lifesaver.
4. Electronic Device of Choice: Stop lecturing us about screentime. Autistics know that we need our electronic device of choice to help us regulate our input and redirect our thinking. For many of us, it’s where our friends live, and our special interests flourish. Be it a Kindle, an iPad, or just a cell phone, autistics need our electronic devices to communicate and regulate.
5. Fidgets: For autistics, leaving the house without a fidget is like getting into a bath without getting wet. Impossible. If we don’t take one, we’ll make one out in the world. Our brains need our hands to be busy in order to process. We need stimming to regulate. Carrying a favorite fidget or a few favorites is a must—no ifs ands or buts.
6. SUGAR: For whatever reason, autistics are used to have sugar spikes as we overload. Carrying a small snack or candy is a must. Favorite foods can be soothing, and having a sugar crash stinks. Not to mention, many of us crave the sensory of taste and oral stimulation. Some hard candies or mints do wonders in a pinch.
7. Beverage: Nope. Being thirsty is very poorly tolerated by autistics, and dehydration is a common struggle for us. Remembering to drink is one thing but having it available is a must. As we are often specific about drink choices, taking one with you is all but required.
8. Essential Oils: Nothing makes bad smells a thing of the past, like rubbing on some essential oil. Not only do they eliminate bad odors, but the right essential oils can also soothe you in body and mind. Just a little dab and few breaths later, calm has returned.
While I am certain that all of our individual “lifesavers” would make this list endless, these 8 items can change the way you experience and tolerate the neurotypical world. It is loud out there for all of our senses and the only way to survive out there is to show up prepared. Time to grab your toolkit and head out there!