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Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Routeless Destination

Stop me if you've heard this one; a person on the autism spectrum doesn't want to do a specific subject in school because, "they'll never need it because they know what they want to do in life." I've heard this many, many times but have never had the best way to describe the reasons as to why it is there. Then, as I was thinking about yesterday's blog, I realized that the way I feel now is similar to the reason why a certain subject in school will be simply omitted by a student's brain.

I wrote yesterday's blog out of fear, panic, and frustration. I have so many ideas and these things need to happen but I'm overwhelmed by all that has to happen to get there. How is this in any bit the same as the school example? We both know the destination but getting there is the uncertainty. This can play out two ways; we either know exactly what we want and will hyper-focus on it exclusively, or we will see the destination and realize it's a million miles away and become overwhelmed on the trip to get there. In both examples the destination can be seen but the way to get there is full of fog, you don't have a GPS system, and when you look it up on a proverbial Google Maps the response you get is, "good luck?"

It can be highly difficult to know exactly what you want the destination to be and be oblivious to all that needs to be done to get there. Looking at it from a strict logic standpoint it makes sense, right, that if a person wants to be a mathematician why then should they sit through semester after semester of science, and chemistry, and world history? There will be no sense of direction through this routeless destination because the destination is already thought of, and known, so why worry about the now when the destination is already known and accepted? It will be lost that grade averages are cumulative and to get to a good university they are usually needed.

On the other hand, this too can operate the way it operates within me and that is becoming overwhelmed by everything that has to happen to get to the destination. Of course, remember, if you've met one person on the autism spectrum you've only met one and it's great that this concept can be used in two different ways. Anyway, so many times in my, when there's a project to be done, I become overwhelmed by seeing everything all at once. A good real example is this; now we can use a GPS system that will speak out to you each small step on a long trip so you, as the driver, won't have to worry about turn #32 unless you really want to. However, when I drove to Las Vegas in 2003, my dad printed out a thing from MapQuest and it broke down every turn and I had three pages of it. In the end it's the same system, but my ability to see everything at once made the trip a little bit more intimidating. Thankfully, driving and real directions comes easily for me but this driving metaphor is a perfect example of the potential issues seeing everything all at once. Quickly, I can see every turn, ramp, and exit all at once and the way to get to the destination is as impossible as driving over Mount Everest. I may know where I want to go but getting there seems impossible because there's just too much stuff and everything has to work just right and since we may have the mindset of, "whatever is now is forever" we may never see a way to navigate through the routes to make it to the destination.

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