Adaptations or coping mechanisms are adjustments you make for yourself or are made for you to create a safe and comfortable environment for you to exist in.
How adaptations can change the neurodivergent experience
Autistic and ADHD adults often feel a great sense of relief when they finally have the agency to set their own rules, regarding meals, daily schedules, the clothes they wear, and the space they live in.
Common neurodivergent “traits” are often just signs of distress and unmet needs, and when the individual has a say in not creating a harmful environment for themselves, these “traits” suddenly “go away”.
This is also partly the reason why the previously often used “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” labels are not accurate, as how well one person functions greatly depends on their environment and how they are treated.
What are some examples of neurodivergent adaptations?
Different people have different needs, and these adjustment needs also can change a lot during a lifetime. Adaptations can be tiny or elaborate, but they all add up and can help immensely. Some examples of everyday adaptations are:
- Using alarms and alerts to create reminders.
- Creating labels for containers so you don’t forget what’s in them.
- Wearing noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs in loud environments.
- Signing up for subscriptions for products that you use often so you never run out (toilet paper, hygiene products, etc.).
- Using planners and calendars to keep track of events and tasks.
- Pursuing a career that allows you to work from home and not in a busy environment.
- Going to work in a coffee shop for the afternoon because the ambient noise helps you focus.
- Only wearing clothes made from soft materials so they’re not scratchy on your skin.
- When cooking for yourself, you don’t force yourself to eat food with textures that are irritating for you.
- Sticking to a few options when it comes to clothing so you don’t spend too much time thinking of what to wear, and this way you avoid decision fatigue.
- Creating a space for yourself in your home that is as sensory stimulating or relaxing as it is needed for you.
- Spending time on hobbies that bring you joy, regardless of whether they are considered childish or silly.