Time Difference, Routine Difference

Jet lag sucks. That’s not just from an autistic point of view. No one likes to have jet lag. It’s especially bad if you go from somewhere like New Zealand to Italy. The time difference is twelve hours, so even if you go to bed at midnight most days, you feel like you should be asleep when it’s the middle of the day!

For someone with autism, though, a major concern can be that jet lag, and adjusting to it, breaks routine. How can you wait until twelve o’clock to have lunch, when at ten am your body is screaming because twelve was twenty-four hours ago because of where you were yesterday? Do you really have to go to bed at ten when the day before, ten was nine?

That’s what I want to talk about. As my fellow New Zealanders will know, Daylight Savings began on the 29th of September this year, 2019. As such, my clock was completely out of whack. My body didn’t want to wake up at 8 because it felt like 7, my brain begged for lunch instead of breakfast and I ended up with a brunch of katsu don (that’s a Japanese dish that involves crumbed pork and rice with a great sauce). That meant I wasn’t hungry when it was lunchtime and I ended up having sushi for afternoon tea since I missed lunch. That meant, when it finally got to six o’clock and it was dinnertime, I wasn’t particularly hungry for Pad Thai, usually one of my favourite meals (I’m not Japanese or Thai, by the way, all the meals were coincidental – no more rice or rice noodles for a few days).

See? My routine got out of whack because of the clocks changing. And I am not ashamed to admit that I didn’t cope with it very well. I felt moody and weak all morning. It took me several hours to get out of my funk. Admittedly I felt better by the time I was on my way to St Pierre’s, but I was in a really strange mood before that.

Now, I don’t consider myself one of those autists who really needs routine and gets very concerned when they don’t have a plan to follow. But I do like to know where I’m going and what I’m doing, say, about an hour before I do it, or even earlier. And when everything is an hour earlier, well, it takes me a few hours to get my head around it. And if anyone else with autism feels that way, too, let me know. Because believe me, it’s the change in routine that leaves me behind.

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