On Routines and Interruptions

Hey guys, before I dive into today’s post, I just wanted to let you know that I’m building an additional page for resources.  So far, I just have a lot of crisis and suicide hot lines, apps, and texting places.  I’ll be adding more awesome stuff for you awesome folks later.  We now return to your regularly scheduled Sarcastic Autist random post.

So I have a pretty regular routine.  I wake up, brush my teeth, start my coffee, put on pants, get my coffee, and then study Japanese until I finish all my review and new material.  If I eat breakfast, I generally eat a piece of toast with some jam or jelly, have a quesadilla, or have a delicious pastry.  Rarely do I eat more than that.  I eat at the same times every day, and if I miss that window of 12:00-13:30 for lunch, I skip lunch.  I eat the same foods with little variation.  It’s not that I don’t like a wide variety of foods, I mean, once a week on a Friday or Saturday I take a break from my normal dinner and cook something new or something I hadn’t had in many a moon.  Dinner is between 16:30 and 19:00, pills are at 19:30.  Bedtime is whenever I fall asleep.  Rinse and repeat.

I’m not saying all my days are like this.  I’m saying this is my preferred structure for my daily routine.  If I want to do something else, I plan it weeks ahead of time.  I always ask my friends for advanced notice on events that may interrupt or interfere with my normal routine because it upsets me.  It throws this Emperor off His Groove.   I remember where people sit at regular functions, such as Bible Study and D.B.T. group.  When others don’t abide by what I’ve determined to be their normal and predictable behavior, it upsets me.

This is true for a lot of individuals on the Spectrum.  We are creatures of routine and predictability and equations and science and facts.  Please don’t take that the wrong way, we are creative too.  I can write weird poetry and stories.  I know some very Artistic Autistics who aren’t me.  Despite that, in my experience and limited research, Autists still like routines.  And if any of the other Autistic people are like me, they will have studied the behavior of a wide variety of non-autistic individuals and realized the patterns and habits they have.  I’ve incorporated some of these non-autistic people’s habits into my social interactions and I’ve noticed that Non-Autists also do not like change in their social routines.

If I go on a spiel about how my great aunt just lost a toe in a freak garden gnome incident when someone asks how I’m doing, people tend not to like it.  The apparent correct response is a variation of “I’m fine, and how fare you, my fine fellow”.  (Disclaimer: I have no idea if I even have a great aunt, let alone if she lost a toe in a freak garden gnome incident). So, to recap, people just don’t like it when the normal routine has been interrupted, Autistic people in particular.

Now, if you do manage to do a fuck up and totally interrupt my routine, for example, if you make me drink a different brand of coffee or use a different mug than the one I’m accustomed to, it fucks with me on such a deep level, it’s not quite conscious.  I’ll struggle to make sure I have pants on, that I am indeed wearing a bra, my watch, have my phone fully charged, if I have money for a soda pop.  When I was a child, changes in my routine, such as a substitute teacher, often resulted in me having melt downs.

Melt downs are different than my adult shut downs, where I mostly internalize my discomfort.  Melt downs present much like tantrums, except it was more of a result of something really upsetting me rather than Okaasan telling me I couldn’t have ice cream for breakfast.  I would hide under tables and scream and cry and hit myself and throw things at people if they bothered me.  I’m told it was quite terrifying to witness, but thanks to a weird autism trait I like to deem ‘melt down blackouts’, I have no recollection of any of this.  Once I was done with my melt down, I’d forget about it and move on like nothing had happened.  (Yes, I’m really glad I grew out of that, for the most part).

The importance of routines as an Autistic Adult is that it helps me to function as an individual outside of a treatment facility.  I’m mostly independent when it comes to being able to adult on adulty things.  I can pay bills.  I can go to the store.  I can mostly remember that I need to wear pants outside.  However, that’s only because I have a very specific order in which I do things.  When my routine is interrupted, it has a domino effect of throwing me off my entire day, sometimes my entire week.  I’m not sure if this is because of my lack of Executive Functioning or what, but it happens and it’s stressful.  Don’t fuck with my routine please.

Now, if you interrupt me when I’m trying to tell you something, it pisses me off.  I have to spend time formulating my words and sentences before speaking.  I can’t just talk and expect words to come out in the right order and structure and language.  I’m not good at spur of the moment discussions.  I just can’t do it, and while that’s okay, it’s upsetting.  If I’m talking to you about something, especially when it’s something I’m passionate about and thought you’d find nifty too, and you interrupt me, I’m going to shut down.  Because obviously you don’t care enough about my feelings to wait five fucking seconds to let me finish.

For example, this morning I was talking to my godmother about that awesome presentation on the holistic healing effects of Ume backed by scientific studies and lab experiments and the presentation that I attended before hand about the benefits of observing a Sabbath once a week and she fucking interrupted me.  I was talking about having a day of rest (just beginning my explanation of the presentation), when she started talking in the middle of my sentence about how even Jesus healed on the Sabbath and what not.  I shut down.  I said whatever it didn’t matter that she interrupted me because I was finished.  I was finished speaking to her at that moment.  It was really upsetting for me.

My mother does it too.  I’ll be trying to discuss something with her and she’ll start talking over me.  It’s rude and disrespectful, especially for those of us with the social dyslexia that is Autism.  It takes a lot of effort and energy to try and talk to people about things and getting interrupted gives me the impression that you don’t care what I put myself through to talk to you about shit.  I hate that.  End rant.

So, to end with, tomorrow starts the new Mr. Oinkers Challenge.  I have been struggling to be Self-Compassionate this week, so I’m going to continue working on that this week instead of adding another thing.  Remember, Authenticity is Key and Self-Compassion is Essential.

With care,

The Sarcastic Autist

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