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Why is Newness Scary? Autism & Transitions.


This insightful essay explains that Autistics don’t vibe with liminal spaces. Liminal spaces are the ones between. The waiting room. The queue. Getting out of bed. The 2020’s are one big liminal space. Getting out of bed with petrochemicals. Getting out of bed with white supremacy. With colonialism. With the pathology paradigm. We’re in a years-long inflection, and our landing point is not yet determined. Our trajectory is not even determined. This is a liminal space. And I can’t bear the unknowing of it.

We love routines, us Autists. Familiar objects. Same foods. Even people. Newness is terrifying.


Because we make everything new. Our minds dismantle the familiar all day long. The social scripts which comfort others confuse us. Rituals of hierarchy and subservience which brace the majority are specimens of our scrutiny. We are floating in the unfamiliar all day long. In a swarm of cultural complexity, it makes sense to have a personal plushie. Maybe even some reassurance. And hell, some gratitude might hit the spot too, y’know?

Noticing this led me to a life-changing practice, one I’m inclined to forget because that’s what I do. I’m writing these words so as not to forget. Here’s my practice: when scared or overwhelmed, instead of shutting down, or spinning out of control, I am (well I have been for the last hour) meditating on the familiar:

Leaving the house and about to freak out? What can I sense that is familiar? Ah, the touch of my jumper against my wrist, just there. I recognise it. Yes. It is familiar. I am safe.



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Emma Barnes

Emma Barnes


Autistic, trans, survivor, abolitionist @friedkrill on Twitstagram