Applying the social model well. (Example!).

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For the last few days i have been rather unwell. Nothing to serious, just a bad cold or a bit of Flu. Today i ventured to the local shop to buy some more lemsip then coming back i sat in costa coffee.

I brought my normal drink and sat down. I was feeling rough, so i asked the costa barista if they would be so kind as to make me a lemsip. They did!

I sat down and smelled it. It was great. I then forgot entirely about thermodynamics and tried to drink it. I managed to drink my cold drink before it did too much damage.

This is all pretty typical. When chatting with my friend their advice was to add a new rule. Something like "always test a drink with your lips or wait at least 10 minutes".

At first this sounded sensible, but then i realised i had no chance of making that rule work. I simply wouldn’t have remembered it.

Applying the social model.

So, instead i asked "what did the environment assume incorrectly"? What can the enviroment around me to do prevent the bad outcome?

I had a think and decided the assumption was "jamie will remember something is hot" and thats a bad assumption for the environment to make for me.

So then i had a wonder, what could i do to change the environment?

 Options options..

The first few options we thought of where typical autism stuff. We could make a "cafe" routine cards and maybe an app? Perhaps one of the support people could ask the cafe nicely on my behalf.

Those help a bit more, they are modifying the environment to meet my needs. However the more i though about it the more I realised it was a perception issue. I didnt perceive the risk.

My final solution was much simpler. I added a geo-fenced alert to my phone. Every time i visit the cafe my watch and my phone will remind me to check a hot drink.

In this way the technology is making up for a badly designed environment and ensuring my impaired sense of danger does not disable me.

It’s way more likely to work and unlike "forgetting" if it does go wrong, i am less likely to go on the self attack.

I really love the social model. It helps me to think about my life differently and find effective solutions to the day to day challenges.


Spaced Out & Smiling is about exploring the fun side of Autism, and trying to understand what it means to be Autistically Happy.

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