Autism: Stepping out of my comfort zone

By Tyler Ody - 21 July 2022

Opinion and Features
  • Tyler Ody

    Tyler Ody

Living with Autism - a column by The Autistic Journalist Tyler Ody. North Swindon resident Tyler Ody has been working for Swindon Link for the past three years. From the age of four Tyler has been diagnosed with Classic Autism. Here's his new monthly column.

Welcome to column number five, which this month will be about stepping out of my comfort zone.

I like to be in my comfort zone at home, and work like everybody else on the whole planet. I do struggle to push myself out my comfort zone - especially when I have to go to new or busy places.

One place I really don’t like is the supermarket at the busy hours. It gets me in a panic - a bit like the feeling when a fire alarm goes off, which has always worried me since I was a child. Mostly, I don't like the long queues at the checkouts. 

But normally these days my mother and I will go shopping in the morning, when it is a lot less crowded and I can feel more relaxed.

Another thing is going to new places where I have never been. That does not feel like my comfort zone, as it's somewhere unknown.

One time I pushed myself out of my comfort zone was when I got a job with Swindon Link. 

I joined the team when on work experience in October 2019. I have to say I was nervous as it was a new place and experience for me at the time. 

I remember the first day starting at Swindon Link - I used to go with Alison, a TA from Horizons College.

I felt so welcomed by the staff, and the nerves went away after a couple of weeks and here we are two years later! I am now part of the team, and writing this monthly column.

Going to new places can trigger anxiety within me, and make me feel out of my comfort zone. 

For example, I went on holiday earlier in the year and I had never been to that part of Cornwall before. I felt a bit emotional at the start of the holiday, but then I got used to it and enjoyed myself.

I have always felt uncomfortable doing public speaking. When I was in college, I used to talk from where I was sitting as I felt more comfortable. 

Recently, I attended The Pride Of Swindon Awards. I did a small speech on behalf of Swindon 105.5 (where I also work). I would not normally feel comfortable doing this kind of public speaking, but I took the brave option and did it - which I was quite proud of myself for.

Another thing that makes me feel out of my comfort zone is when my plans change last minute. For example if my family and I plan an outing, but the plans change and we then have to do something else. 

It does take time for me to process changes to my routine, but as soon I work to adjust, I often end up enjoying the change in activity, and doing something new.

Explanations about new experiences and assurances of safety can help me to feel a bit better when I am faced with something new. 

I really want to overcome these triggers over time - I am not there yet but I am slowly taking steps to improve for the future, and hopefully the outcome will be positive.

I think it is important to push myself out of my comfort zone as it will help me to learn more about the world. 

Tyler's last column (Autism & Education) can be found at https://swindonlink.com/news/education-and-autism/

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