Friday, June 14, 2013

Beware Transitions

Okay, so I'm writing about something super obvious today and that is that transitions are difficult for those on the autism spectrum. However, there is something more to this than is normally spoken of and that is what I'm going to talk about today.

What do I call a transition? The way I'm using it today is going from one task to another. A task though, for me, could be a multi-hour or multi-day thing. When I am in the midst of something that I am full enjoying I may become oblivious to how I feel. This often happens at the race track when I am flagging as I won't realize I'm drinking enough water on a hot day because I am so focused on the task at hand, and enjoying it, that I don't realize just how bad my body is feeling.

This lack of feeling is common for myself when I am engulfed within one of my Kansas'. I look at this week as this has been the first light week I've had in a long time and I have felt absolutely flattened. Granted, I think most people that have had my schedule (80 days on the road so far this year) would be tired but for me it doesn't hit until there is a transition and when it hits it hits big.

I think back to the school years. I didn't get along with school all that well but every year come May or June when school was over I would become sad it was over and then as I transitioned into the new routine I would become extremely exhausted. Again, so long as whatever is going on continues I often won't realize just how tired I am. Usually though, unlike this, the task or activity will have to be liked to become oblivious as to how I feel.

One of the ways autism and special interests are explained (I call this Kansas) is that, "those on the autism spectrum will have an area of interest or knowledge that they will do to the exclusion of other things." This exclusion may also include physical and mental balance. It's not that I don't care about my body at the race track but rather I am so focused on the laps, the classes, the safety, and making sure my technique of flagging is perfect that I don't realize I'm dehydrated. I don't realize that I'm a little sore, or a little tired. If you'd like to see the definition of metal and physical fatigue all you'd have to do is look at my face about five minutes after the final race of a race day I work. "Are you okay?" is something I hear a dozen times but while I'm armed with my flags I feel nothing; it's once it's over that I begin to feel.

The concept holds true with traveling and presenting. Two days ago I gave a presentation on a day that I barely had enough energy to stand up, but once the presentation began I lost the feeling of being tired. Five minutes after the presentation I felt about as junky as possible.

So I just wanted to share this today in case you know a person on the spectrum that is, while in activity, full of energy and spunk but as soon as there is a transisition there is a major change. I feel this is important because this loss of energy and feeling of ill is sudden and without choice because we, ourselves, don't even know how tired or bad we felt while doing whatever it was we enjoyed doing.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if you were aware of it or not Aaron, but the "unofficial" motto of our company is "Embrace Change!"

    We must always be ready, willing and able to change our job functions, change the people we serve and change our departments and coworkers. That's the concept. The reality is, most people don't handle change or transition well. I will admit that what you describe happening to you during a transition is probably what I'd call an extreme reaction.

    I personally handle change very well. I've always been a transient person. This doesn't mean that I'm always moving, although I have lived everywhere from St. Louis to Alaska to Australia. And maybe that's why I can handle changes as well as I do. I've never had a sense of permanance in my life.

    I will say that one of the first things I learned here at TouchPoint was that a dislike of change in routine is ALMOST universal in people on the Autism spectrum. It's what I see every week when new kiddos are coming in for sessions and they're very meek at first but by the end of the multi week sessions they're actually excited to come in because it's what they've come to expect.

    Between you and working here, I learn something new every single day. About those we serve and about myself almost always.