Today I am soft launching my new website at SpacedOutAndSmiling.com
In a nutshell it’s a mix of two things:
It’s a blog to document my move into independent living and it’s a resource site for sharing a library of reviews, tips and tricks all focused on making day to day life easier and more fun.
My hope is that it can be useful to other people making the same journey and act as a resource for parents, carers and professionals helping us along the way.
The name came from a friend who was describing me after a recent visit to the zoo.
We took a buggy, effectively a large pushchair. It was an experiment too see what would happen if we changed the way we did things a bit, too just accept the spaced out side of the autism rather than to fight it.
It was a HUGE success. Rather than seeing one thing, then getting so spaced out I spent the rest of the day barely able to walk and talk I instead was able to last the entire day.
I was still spaced out but we were prepared. Rather than becoming anxious, upset, feeling guilty and then using all my energy fighting the derp all day I spent the day looking at the animals and interacting with my friends. We all had more fun.
The buggy provided a little sensory pod. It meant I could take breaks without slowing everyone down and generally meant I didn’t have to battle with the crowds while trying to stay with a group.
One of the friends who went with me (the chap who did most the pushing actually ;)) described me at the end of the day as ‘spaced out and smiling’ and i liked the term.
I didn’t need the buggy. But dammit I was happier using it. It made the experience so much better for me. We took it knowing it might get used, it was already agreed. I didn’t have to deal with the rush of guilt associated with being spaced out. We had already designed the day to be as hassle free as possible.
I think in the autism world there is a tendency towards ‘normal’ and ‘highest functioning’.
While long term I agree this is a good thing (living skills are hugely important) I also believe that if I’m safe with friends and something ‘lower functioning’ works than dammit why not. Functional labels are not always helpful.
This pattern has repeated itself. From carrying lion, to choosing the foods I eat and the tableware I use, I have found that small changes can make something that was possible, easy and something that was easy enjoyable.
Ultimately, that is the whole point of the new site. I want to share the experiences I have and encourage people to explore what it means to be ‘autistically’ happy.
So that’s the wishy washy human story bit. Here’s the technical side.
For the new site I wanted something easy to maintain and extend. I first tried using Wordpress as the go to blogging platform but the interface just annoyed me. Way to complicated!
I then tried building a site on squarespace. That worked a bit better but the theme felt limiting.
Ultimately, I built my own thing. I used bootstrap to build the front end and used a system called perch too manage the content. The whole thing is then hosted on UKWSD.com.