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Tips on How To Handle Small Changes


New Member
I need some tips on how to calm myself down. My brothers love to cancel and reschedule plans and I feel like exploding. Can you please share some tips on what you do in these situations to calm down? Thank you in advance :)
Hi, @Aleya,

I also have a really hard time when people change scheduled plans.

I think the best place to start is with communication. Finding a way to convey to your family members that it is difficult for you to adjust when plans are canceled or rescheduled is important so that at least they know the truth. I realize this doesn’t always work and can sometimes add to the frustration, because if you have told someone multiple times that it is difficult for you to adjust to changes in plans and they continue to do it, it feels pretty rotten. But at least you have laid the groundwork and let them know.

I have two family members who constantly do this, and unfortunately, I have started to plan on inconsistent behavior from them. When I make plans with these people, I am fully aware that a change in plans will be difficult for me and also that they are likely to change the plan. So I try to start with some preemptive flexible thinking and in making the plans, make them in such a way that I have a back up plan for myself if they change something.

Lastly, I would say just breathe through it. We face different types of anxiety every day and taking deep breaths can physiologically calm our bodies and focus our thinking. Being aware that this is upsetting to you is very important, and when it starts happening, we can remind ourselves this is some thing that I hate, but I can get through it, I can adapt, and it is not wrong for me to feel this way. At least that is what I tell myself. Then coming on here and venting with people who really understand actually helps me a lot.
I have a hard time with rescheduled plans as well. For me, this includes unexpected surprises or transitions, too. I remember reading an article (Don't remember where) that said brain imagery (PET scans) showed how people on the autism spectrum have difficulty with transistion as compared to the norm. For me, my brain gets very overwhelmed with how to handle & prepare for the change. But I really like what Rodafina suggested as to how to handle it. For a breathing technique, I use a simplified version of HeartMath.
Having a plan B and alternatives is a good idea. It will help you to stay calm, and it won't feel so bad if something gets cancelled. Imagine not doing what you planned, what you will do instead. Then have that as a plan B.
One thing that helps me is to consciously decide to accept it. Like, I realize that I have the choice to react in several different ways. I could argue, I could walk away and do nothing, I could go the thing by myself even though everyone else canceled, or I could go with them and do something else.

Making a conscious decision about it takes it from "something that was done to me" and makes it into "something I I have a choice about".

This is going to sound like the dumbest thing ever, but here's how I learned that:

I usually have the exact same thing for breakfast every morning (oatmeal and a boiled egg - very simple, not fancy at all). One morning when my wife's parents were visiting, I got up and they were already downstairs cooking. My mother-in-law happily announced that she had made me breakfast. As good as it looked, I didn't want that fancy breakfast - I wanted my plain old routine breakfast. Rather that blow up or insult them by refusing the food, I realized I could make a conscious choice to choose to have something else for breakfast. I chose to eat what they made, and because it was my choice, I was able to deal with the change.

I'm sure that most people would think that was the most trivial and meaningless change, but it upset my routine. Since then, I've been able to "consciously choose" to accept other changes, some big and some small.
Do something positive with them to associate a positive memory with them.
I would assume in advance that this plan may not go off as scheduled and have an alternate plan ready for when they futz out. NTs don't always take plans as seriously as autistic folks do - unless there's money involved. Sometimes not even then.
I would say take it day by day and don’t rush anything. Always take your time and take it one day at a time. If you try and rush change, it will be more complicated and overwhelming for you to handle. I also like to remember that all change is not bad. Change can mean for the better even if you don’t like to experience it.

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