My Meltdown Survival Kit

There are a few bits and pieces that I’ve found very helpful for managing some of my autistic symptoms. I thought I’d write a little bit about them.

Clear nail varnish. Not one that I’ve used recently, but back at the end of my degree, when I was handling a lot of paper, it really helped to keep that papery feeling away from my fingernails, where it causes the most annoyance. I’d be moisturising my hands so frequently that it was doing something strange to my nails, and they felt very porous.

Hand moisturiser. I just use a bulk bottle of aqueous cream for this, because scented creams can get on my nerves if the scent isn’t suiting me on that particular day. This helps with dry, papery or sandy sensations.

Weighted blanket. Proprioception is the body’s way of telling exactly where it is compared to the rest of the world. In autistic people, proprioception can be a little faulty, and we often feel like we’re floating, the wrong way up, or only loosely tethered to the physical world. A good weighted blanket can help with this, especially when I’m trying to get to sleep.

Sunglasses. Light sensitivity is a nightmare. I keep my sunglasses in my backpack just in case, because even on a grey, overcast day it can be painfully bright outside. I go for polarised glasses as they cut out more light, however, it can make using computer screens tricky.

Chewelry. Rather than biting myself, or my partner when I’m feeling “chewy”, it’s much more convenient to have a pendant that’s safe for me to bite. The rubbery texture has taken a little getting used to, but being able to just gnaw at something when I’m stressed has made it easier to focus on work. You can get chewelry in a range of styles and colours, mine’s a blue ring pendant.

Filtered water. I hate the chlorine taste of tap water, and it’s difficult to get enough to drink unless I’m guzzling pop. Having a bottle of filtered water to hand encourages me to drink healthy, and can be used as a quick handwash when out and about. It doesn’t leave your hands sticky, smelly or tasting icky like alcohol handwashes can.

Pashmina. Endlessly useful. This can be a makeshift hand towel to go with the filtered water. It can be wrapped around awkward things to make comfortable handles, can help me block out the world if I’m having a bit of a sensory nightmare with busy areas, and keeps my neck warm. There are also ways of wrapping it like swaddling to help get deep pressure when I’m out and about.

Smartphone. Apps to help me manage things, games and distractions for when I need to stop and forget that I’m surrounded by people, and a way to contact my friends if I need someone to walk me to a safe place. GPS and maps for if I happen to misplace where I’m supposed to be, a clock and alarms and timers to help me manage my time better… I don’t think I could survive without my phone, and not because I’m a social media addict.

What’s in your survival kit?

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