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Irma Changed My Plans

by Aaron Tanner

· Hurricane Irma,Florida,Travel,Autism Society,Change

One of the common characteristics of having Aspergers is the inability to handle a change in plans or routine. I experienced that exact scenario this past week that I want to share.

I was supposed to go and see my Grandma in Florida last weekend for her 90th birthday. However, Hurricane Irma forced me to cancel that particular plan.

First off, my Grandma made it through Hurricane Irma just fine. There were a few limbs down in her yard but no structural damage to her house. Since the power was out for a couple of days, my Grandma and her neighbors gathered their thawing food before it spoiled and had a big party.

The main reason I handled this change of plans as well as I did is due to being prepared in my mind. While tracking Irma from when the storm came off the coast of Africa, many of the computer models were predicting a Florida hit two weeks out around the same time as my Grandma's birthday.

A few days before the scheduled trip, I already saw signs that my plans would have to change. For example, gas shortages occurred when many people from central and south Florida evacuated at once and a state of emergency was declared. I decided not to go, and I called my Grandma to let her know. She understood.

Photo from Will Clark at Keaton Beach, Florida during Irma

The fact that this change was not last minute helped me cope with the change. It is the sudden, last minute changes to plans and routine that cause many people with Aspergers to get frustrated to the point of a meltdown. I am better than I used to be when handling change but I still struggle sometimes.

It is important that those with Aspergers or parents/caregivers of someone with Aspergers to keep a daily check on the weather if a big event is planned involving someone with Aspergers. If you know several days in advance that inclement or severe weather may impact a planned event, like an outdoor party or a trip to the zoo, involving a child with Aspergers, be upfront with them about it and let them know ahead of time that the scheduled plan may have to be postponed or canceled. If you have Aspergers and see that storms may impact an event that same day, do not get upset but instead accept that the event you were looking forward to may not happen due to the weather.

I cannot stress enough, if the weather should force a cancellation of your scheduled event, have an alternative plan. Fortunately, I was invited to a friend's house that Saturday night I was supposed to be in Florida for a cookout and my church had a big 5th-anniversary celebration on Sunday.

Weather is one of many things that can derail anyone's plans, Aspergers or no Aspergers. Just accept that you may occasionally have to work around Mother Nature. Also, the Autism Society of Florida is accepting donations for those on the Autism spectrum affected by Hurricane Irma. To donate, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

Has weather ever forced a change in routine and if so, how did you handle the situation? Comment in the section below.

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