If daylight saving time messed you up, imagine being autistic

Apr 2, 2015 at 3:20 p.m. ET
Image: Rüstem GÜRLER/Digital Vision Vectors/Getty Images

Do you remember how you felt on Sunday, March 8? Your favorite talk show host may have mentioned it. Or you could have heard it on the radio and glanced at the spring-forward clock on the news before you went to bed. With all the reminders we have about it, how is it that we get so screwed up with daylight saving time? It happens at the same time every year.

But some of us still managed to still wake up feeling drowsy, unprepared and late despite all the warnings. There are over 9,000 hashtags on Instagram dedicated to daylight saving time alone. Various images that display everything from red-eyed, bed-haired models stuck to a pillow with clothes that resemble comforters or super-sized coffee cups, and simple memes with the message, "I want my hour back."

Now, imagine feeling this way daily. At any given moment your clock sprung forward and despite notice, reminders and preparation for just such an event your entire way of being is disrupted because you function on having a routine. The system you've been working, practicing and attempting to master for perhaps the past 364 days, or longer, has just switched.

"You'll have to learn to adjust, life won't adjust to you." "It's not that big of a deal." "All I did was... " "What's wrong with you anyway, you look normal." That last comment is one I hear most often and it causes me a lot of concern as a parent of a 7-year-old son with ASD, and as a responsible member of society.

These are some of the things people with autism hear consistently when their behavior doesn't match their look, and that behavior has been triggered by a routine change. As if autism has a look, or a normal for that matter. The truth is when you or someone you love is living with autism, so are you. Perhaps even more so in the earlier years when you are their sole advocate and they appear to be unaware of how the world views them as different. Routine matters, consistency counts and when it's disrupted the return to the new normal can take unprecedented amounts of time. Change in the tiniest way is a big deal.

You will hear a lot about April 2 being Autism Awareness Day, see a lot of royal blue shirts and light displays and read more about autism than you normally would. But every day there's an opportunity to be aware of autism. One easy way is to think back to how you felt the first day of daylight saving time, and remember that you always have a 364-day notice. People with autism don't.

More on autism awareness

Paint your nails blue Autism Awareness Month
40 Things that really do cause autism
Dear anti-vaxxers: Stop using autism as the boogeyman