Wednesday, October 30, 2013

#Autistic Inertia

I have erased, and began again on this page. I look at the blinking cursor as I try to get my thoughts out, but none are quite what I want to convey. I imagine this blockage would be worse if I were having to actually speak, instead of type. So many thoughts in my head, and emotions building that I can't quite articulate any of it, and it's seemingly stopping me from doing anything productive.

I call this phenomenon autistic inertia. I may be not even be enjoying whatever repetitive activity that I am doing, or thoughts that I am dwelling on, but they are looping in a manner inside my brain, and freezing my body in a way that I can't seem to break free from.

I know that I should do something else. I know that I have tons of things that need done. I know I am behind, and should get moving. I am aware of the time. The clock is making me nervous,
therefore taking up more of my mental energy that I might otherwise use to break free from this doing nothing phase. This is not about procrastination, or being lazy. I maybe lack motivation on these days, but I would call it more misplaced motivation, because it doesn't feel like it's a choice to be so stuck in the inertia.

I see this happen with autistic kids, especially teens who are required to get moving, and be organized more than younger kids without as much support. They get stuck doing something, watching tv, video game, ect.. and cannot formulate the steps in their mind to stop, and do something else.  They get punished for it, because on the outside it looks purposeful.  It looks a lot like laziness, and noncompliance. I think that this feeling of numbness, and inability to move fluidly from one task to another can be a symptom of ADD, as well as depression. I know that on days where I am down this feeling is almost inevitably there, making me feel heavy, weighed down, and listless.

I am not sure what can help. I know punishing, yelling, and judgment doesn't help. I also know that most of us can't just sit around like a lump all day doing nothing.  I do try to take it easy on the days where I feel inertia. These days are hard, and long. Moving through them takes so much.

If I were to give some tips on how to help someone you suspect is having this issue I would say:

* Be gentle. Being harsh will make it worse.
* Provide lots of positive feedback. Sometimes, just a shift in disposition can boost me out of intertia.
*Decide what needs to be done,and what can wait.
*Throw in a lot of breaks in between tasks.
*Make sure the tasks include some fun things, too.
*Make sure a few (maybe every other task) be ones that involves movement. Sometimes that helps to break the loop.
*Remember that this isn't purposeful, nor does it reflect on a person's character, or that person's upbringing. We have too many ideas in our society about what it means to be productive, not lazy, and obedient when many serve no purpose outside of social convention.


  1. Thank you! This kind of thing has been a part of my experience too. It's true it is labelled procrastination and laziness if you don't understand the mechanism behind it.

    I'm working with my sons to encourage goal setting. It's something that isn't really taught I've found, unless you have parents who are great at it themselves. But I think that skill helps immensely. It sharpens focus and helps you to work out what you need to do at that particular moment.

    Great tips!

    1. Thank you! I'm hoping to teach my son some goal setting, too. He doesn't appear to have too much issues with getting moving like I do.


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