1. Noise canceling headphones – to help take a break from your surroundings.Sometimes I need to check out to avoid sensory overload or block out distractions so I can work / focus on other things.
2. Sunglasses – for light sensitivities. I try to stay in the shade when outdoors but I need sunglasses even on rainy days (and sometimes indoors). I have special colored lenses to help with the florescent lights in stores and office.
3. Hats – Hats with brims are great to block out glaring lights. I also like hats that come down around my face on days that I do not feel like looking at people or being looked at. On sensory days or when I am tired, I honestly don’t have the energy to socialize with strangers – so I don’t.
4. Something to fiddle with – if you need a break / distraction Book, iPod, smart phone, or fidget toy such as a Rubix Cube. I like to always have an audio book or music available when I need a break. Don’t forget the headphones.
5. Hand wipes – If you have tactile sensitivities like I do, sticky hands will drive you crazy. It is nice to have something to clean up with – try to avoid scented wipes or find a smell you like.
6. A Snack – Sensitive stomach or just sensitive to tastes and textures in your mouth – regardless of the reason it is good to have something with you that you can eat if you are venturing out for the day. I get fuzzy and agitated when I am hungry. I can’t think and my sensory issues get worse.
7. Something that smells good – My sense of smell is sensitive, public bathrooms, household cleaners, chemicals, and air fresheners all make me queasy. I like to have good scented lotion or perfume (that smells like food or candy) in my bag and apply when I need to smell something plesant / try to block out something obnoxious.
8. Gum / mints / candy – My stims are less obvious, possibly because I’ve turned to an oral fixation. I like to keep organic mints, candy, or gum in my bag. Personally I can not handle Aspartame or artificial sweeteners as they aggravate my stomach. I tend to be more sensitive to any non-organic chemicals than most people.
9. Take breaks! – Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself and step away and take a break if you need one. It is better to step away for a quiet moment alone than to have a tragically public meltdown / shutdown.
10. Know your limits – Pay attention to how you are feeling. Learn to recognize the signs that you are getting overwhelmed. I get a certain feeling that seems to increase as I get closer to a shutdown / meltdown. It normally starts with the lights getting brighter and sounds getting distorted. Next is a headache and general mind fuzziness.
Remember everyone is different. Autism really is a spectrum. The tips above are just some of the tools I use to stay Anonymously Autistic.