I’ve always struggled a lot over what might seem very basic things. I always have but for most of my life I didn’t get it – I didn’t understand that it could just be part of the way my brain works and that I can’t force myself to be different. I think that’s what I used to do before – try to force myself to be the way I thought everyone was supposed to be. Now my attitude and approach are very different. I am aware of the every day struggles but I relax into it. I don’ t sit back passively but I don’t force myself either. It’s more like try to gently steer myself into another direction. And sometimes frankly I don’t even have the energy for that. For me this is a much more peaceful and sane way to live.
One of the things that I’ve started to notice since my diagnosis of Aspergers is how scattered my brain is. It’s really hard for me to focus on one thing for any amount of time. Taking medication for ADHD helps, but my brain is still a mess. If you were looking over my shoulder while I worked, you would see me jumping from one thing to another, reading this article here, going back to write this story there, all the while just taking in stuff and never just sitting still.
All of this makes it very hard to do work. It’s not impossible, it’s just that it’s difficult. This leads me to wonder how the hell am I able to handle a full-time job and a part-time job at the same time. For some reason, it works, but it isn’t easy; it’s kind of like the old saying about Ginger Rogers, she could do anything Fred Astaire could do, except backwards and in heels.
Actually, there is a more fancy name for what I’m dealing with executive function- something that those of us with Aspergers tend to lack. Here’s how one blog defined it:
- emotional control – being able to manage emotions and control behavior
- response inhibition – the capacity to think before acting and choose an appropriate response
- flexibility – the ability to deal effectively with changes in plans, transitions, and obstacles
- working memory – being able to hold information in memory while performing complex tasks
- sustained attention – paying attention and staying on task despite distraction or fatigue
- planning/prioritization – knowing how to formulate a plan and what’s important/what’s not
- task initiation – the ability to begin tasks in an efficient and timely fashion
- time management – working within time limits or establishing a schedule to meet deadlines
- organization – the ability to create and maintain systems and keep track of information/materials
- goal-directed persistence – the capacity to set goals and follow them through to completion
- metacognition – self-awareness and self-monitoring skills
Of course, one can learn to minimize this. It’s something I’m still learning to do. The above quote deals with executive function in kids, but let me tell ya, it’s there in adults as well. And we have to learn how to control this scatteredness in the workplace if we want our jobs.
How do others deal with this?
I like some of the approaches offered at “Karla’s ASD Page” https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.403241463083641.95595.155369821204141
some of it is a bit overwhelming but I felt it was useful to read.
She also summarizes it here on this webpage, if you don’t use Facebook: http://asdculture.wikispaces.com/My+Time+Management+EF+Strategies
Some of the things I do that work is to just ask myself to work on something for 5 minutes – that is when I have the autistic inertia the keeps me form starting or focusing on a task.
Another thing i do is to draw different colored circles or boxes for the different projects I am doing and within each shape list the different tasks that need to be done for that project. I have done this in powerpoint as well. This sort of helps me to “see” each project somewhat concretely. I then try to look at the picture of all the shapes so i can remember the things I need to do. There have been times in my life when this method has been much better than a linear to do list.