Do Autistics Cope Badly With Change?

A lot of the time it depends on how well it’s communicated

Jae L
8 min readApr 25


Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Advice from neurotypicals about how to manage us autistics will usually mention that we don’t cope well with change. We don’t like it. We like everything to be the same. Always.

This unnuanced version of our experience is based on what is perceived from an external position. It’s about how we behave, not what we are feeling or thinking. (By the way, notice how much information for parents of autistic children is about targeting their behaviour? rather than understanding how they feel?)

The non-autistic onlooker sees someone who is rigid and inflexible. In the workplace, at some point you’ll probably be branded uncooperative and not a team player. You always want to rain negativity on all the wonderfully amazing things others have set in motion. Never mind that they were flying by the seat of their pants with minimal thought involved.

In relationships you’ll be humoured for your lack of spontaneity, chided for your inability to just have fun. You might even be accused of being controlling because you never seem to let the other person have their way. You might be thought of as a fragile creature that needs to be tiptoed around.

Change needs to be managed so it doesn’t unfairly impact on people

Failing to recognise that change impacts on people differently means that the needs of autistic people and many others are ignored.

My consistently painful experience of other people’s changes was one of the things that propelled me towards an autism assessment three years ago. I got sick of internalising other people’s blame and thinking of myself as someone who was difficult and unable to cope with life in the same way as others.

I was in a relationship with someone who made a habit of changing plans at the last minute. She lived in a different city so our life together hung on the strength of our planning efforts.

One Christmas, we made plans for her to come and stay at my place the week before. With her agreement, I booked tickets to see an international comedy star and for my daughter’s end of year drama concert and generally moved my life (and other people’s) around to…



Jae L

Queer, neurodivergent and in the business of defying expectations. Doing my best to answer the questions I keep asking myself.