Enjoying summer as an autistic person

Summer is here. Schools are done for the year. At least in Sweden, summertime is when the whole country comes alive. Instead of being holed up in our homes we can now socialise outdoors. There’s going to the beach, lounging about and doing gardening. Or just have lunch or dinner outside. The general consensus is because it’s summer, you should spend as much time as possible outdoors. If you don’t you are very likely to be pressured or shamed into going outside to do these mandatory summer activities.

I for one quite like summertime, but I know that many autistics don’t. Our senses often work differently from neurotypicals. This means that many of us experience temperature differently;  summer with its heat and humidity can be really taxing. Myself, I’m very sensitive to the cold. Summer is the one time of the year when being being outside doesn’t make me cold or causes me pain. I  really do love heat. If it’s warm enough I might stop wearing something long-sleeved and I might even take off my tights. Many autistics are also very sensitive to light and the sun is often stronger during summertime. This is one of the reasons why I, even though I love the heat tend to stay indoors during summer. It’s just too bright.  I do love going outside during the evening though, when it’s still warm and still light out, although not as much.

Another reason why I don’t like being outside during summertime is because it’s very noisy. Neighbour children playing (this seems to include them yelling a lot, although I don’t know why), neighbours mowing their lawns, people playing really loud music when chilling on the porch. Noise keeps me from being able to concentrate, so sitting outside with a book, soda and an one litre package of ice cream is not work out.

Being outside also increase my anxiety and phobias. People in general tend to make me anxious. I have to spend a lot of energy when I socialise. If I’m outdoors in my garden as an example, a neighbour can stop by to talk to me at any time, without giving any warning in advance. I am also faceblind, which means I probably won’t recognise them. I’ll have to pretend that I know who they are while searching for clues in what they tell me. I do not cope well with having surprise!interactions thrown at me. There’s also my phobias of insects and spiders. I no longer cry like I did when I was a child and a bug would land on me, but I still scream and  need someone else to remove it because I still just can’t touch any insect.

That said, I do love summers in my own way. Evenings where the sun doesn’t set until 11 PM and still warm enough for you to sit outdoors. Devouring a lot of ice cream. Having barbecue several days a week. Having more energy than usual. Not wearing socks or shoes for days. I love the trees and plants coming alive. Seeing all the new baby calves, lambs and foals playing happily. Stay up to game with friends since we all have more time off. I promise, I am getting a lot of out summer even though I spend much of it indoors and often in solitary. Please don’t try to pressure autistics to spend our summers (or any other time of the year) according to your neurotypical standards, as I have explained above this will most likely harm us. We know best how to manage our wants and needs, especially those out of the norm. Please trust us on this and do enjoy your summer! I know I will.