Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Surprise plans and interruptions
I remember having trouble dealing with unexpected plans before I knew I had Asperger's. If someone came to me and said, "hey, let's go to a movie," but I had some other idea that I wanted to pursue, I wouldn't like the idea. It didn't matter that going to movies is fun and I should get out and enjoy myself. It was a change from a plan already formed. I would still go, but I felt like the whole thing was in the way of what I was trying to do.
Sudden changes in plan or schedule can be earthshaking to the over-calculative and sensitive autistic. My son has problems very much the same way. On school mornings there are several tasks of routine to be ready to go and get on the bus. In between these tasks he gets a little free time to read a book or play quietly on his own. That's where the trouble comes in. If he's in the middle of something and I give him a "time warning" or tell him that it's time to put his coat on, he may get angry because I'm interrupting his current task.
So, why do we have this problem and why does it take so much adjustment for us to through it? It has to do with the rigidity of our condition. It affects us in a number of ways. Even an expected change can be hard. It just feels awkward to us and when you feel awkward or uncomfortable that triggers natural reactions. My son is very sensitive to having his concentration disturbed. I'm sure part of it is a matter of maturity, but he will have work with this.
Part of being able to co-exist with society is being flexible and able to change tracks on subjects and schedules. As we work with my son, this is being taken into account. It's worked on at school and I work with him at home. I give him warnings that a change is coming up or time to switch activities is about to occur. Even that isn't always enough.
This will take time, practice and lots of explaining. Will it ever feel more comfortable? It still affects me, so I can't say for sure. The awkward feelings require coping. Not everyone with autism is able to do that either. I can tell you it takes small steps and time, though.
It's also important to note, that a negative response should never be taken personally. That off balance, awkward sensation is very intense. I like going to the movies. I like most of the activities that came up sudden. It's the "sudden" that didn't go well.