I'M EXCITED! Okay, did I just YELL that? I'm sorry, but I finally have a way to describe something I have talked about for many years. I've known this for a long time and wrote about it in my book, and have made reference to it many times on my blog, and have answered many questions at presentations regarding this topic. The topic is this; I believe that the concept of time is different for those that have Asperger's. It isn't so much to say that though, and I've said it for a while, but I've always wondered why this was and once I came up with a theory as to why, I would then be able to explain it and thankfully, finally, I am able to do so.
So okay, the concept of time is different and I'm thinking you're wondering, "What does that mean?" What this means is that the passage of time seems to take longer and thus means that I get mentally tired faster than others. I've encountered so many teachers and and parents that have seen this same phenomenon that I encountered in school and that is the fact that school is easy for the first two hours and then there comes a point which is very much like slamming a car into a brick wall at a high rate of speed. Again, I've always wondered about this and have simply said that the concept of time is different without an explanation.
What would make the concept of time different? I believe this isn't just a random fact but consider this: what if, since the brain with Asperger's can hyper-focus and be hyper-sensitive to its surroundings it is processing more than the brain without Asperger's? In other words the processes per hour, or PPH, is greatly higher, which in turn greatly reduces the mental endurance of the brain, or the proverbial miles per gallon or MPG.
Think of it this way; the brain with Asperger's is almost like a finely tuned race car when it comes to thinking. Like a race car, however, gas mileage isn't something that is a priority because it's about power. The greater the power, typically, the shorter the distance one can go and what if the mind with Asperger's, in a way, is like this?
I believe every element that I have ever written about plays into this concept. The fact that we're often hyper-vigilant increases the PPH because we're constantly overly in-tune with our environment. We may hear every whisper, footstep, and any other noise that most people don't pick up. When it comes to socializing we may seem disinterested but we're still on alert for any tension that may be in our environment. I believe this was the cause of my greatest increase of PPH when I was in school because I was constantly scared of a verbal outburst, or any bit of anger those around me might have because I could never predict what would come after it although I would try and try. Predicting the future, though, is like trying to fathom infinity; imagine that! Imagine trying to constantly predict the unpredictable. It would become exhausting after a while, especially when there were other things that needed to be focused on. But my brain would try and do both and eventually my ability to focus on anything became overwhelming. In other words, I ran the proverbial fuel tank dry and I had nothing left.
As I said, I'm excited to finally have a concept to describe this but one thing I don't have is the "what to do about it" part. However, I believe understanding is the foundation for hope and I think just being aware of this aspect that plays out in the lives of those on the autism spectrum has extreme value. It wasn't that once I hit that brick wall in the day that I suddenly got lazy, or became less caring. It was that I just got extremely tired from my brain's own processing.
Maybe it's because I just thought of this concept, but I feel as if this is one of the most important concept I have described to the world to date. Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I feel a deep conviction that what I have put forth in this post today explains some of the struggles I have faced on so many levels and I dearly wished, 20 years ago, people in my school, and family, understood this.