The Life Autistic: Say This One Thing to STOP THE PANIC

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If you’d like to know how we autistic people think, first, let’s explain what we think.

For me, at the beginning of each day, deep in my subconscious, on a normal day, I’m thinking:

Here is how my day is going to go.

The meetings, the tasks, when the kids wake up, what I’ll have for breakfast/lunch.

I take comfort knowing that this is how my day will go.

Welcome to The Life Autistic, where our comfort is in predictability.

But our discomfort? Well…

Since I take some extreme solace in my day’s order, anything that could jeopardize that order really freaks me out. It just does.

I wish it weren’t the case, but even innocent questions like “When are you off?” or “What all do you have going on today?” or “How long do you think you’ll be in this meeting?” just send these tremors through me.

Like I fear my order will be wrecked, and the nice, cozy routine is about to be altered, shaking my foundation.

SO.

If you want to STOP THE PANIC.

It’s easy.

Start with WHY.

Just start with why!

My family has known me for a while, so they’ve gotten accustomed to it.

“Hey Hunter, since we may be having an uninvited guest show up this afternoon, were you planning on heading to The Cheese Shop this afternoon?”

“Hey Hunter, since Mo’s not feeling too well, what time will you be off today?”

“Hey, something came up over at Dad’s and I might need help – how many more meetings do you have left today?”

Folks, this helps us so much.

And frankly, it helps EVERYONE.

Start with why, stop the panic.

The Life Autistic: Why Dishwashers Sink Me

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With my ‘gifts’ of robotic and inhuman focus, I find I can slog without stress through even the most mundane, monotonous things — except one.

Emptying my dishwasher.

It is indeed the dumbest thing to get worked up over, but if you want to ruin my day, spike my anxiety, and unnerve the tight-knit fabric of my task attacks, just get me unloading a dishwasher.

“Why not just not do it?”

Y’all ain’t be reading this blog long enough – tasks undone make me undone.

“Can you seek help for this?

Let’s start that conversation and see if we can go more than five seconds keeping a straight face about ‘dishwasher anxiety’

“Ok, H2, you got me. Why is this such a pain?”

I’ve been wondering that too.

It’s the strangest thing to be worked up over, so I’ve given it a thought — even applied the ol’ “Task Management System” approach in deconstructing why.

1: It just doesn’t flow

I like logical, behaving things, and my dishwasher is anti-logical relative to my kitchenware arrangement.

If I start from the bottom, then I feel like I’ll forget the top rack. If I start atop, then — well, that’s it’s like it’s hanging over, and there’s too much space beneath—

2: It feels like too many steps

Even when you consider the phrase “unloading the dishwasher,” in my mind, that can only be a single step.

But when I find myself shuffling items out of the unit, staging them for later, stacking cups, bowls, Tupperware to fit in the cabinet, loading newly dirty dishes in, then taking out the silverware basket, and then—

It’s not as simple as it sounds, and that disconnect just frays me.

3: I get stuck trying to “solve” when I need to just “do.”

There’s probably an art, science, and alchemy to doing this.

Someone must have cracked the code.

This must be a solved equation.

That’s at least what I tell myself each time, getting crankier as I fumble plates and jam yet another poor Tupperware tower into a cabinet and then forget I still had silverware to redistribute across adult, toddler, baby, and —

But that is indeed The Life Autistic, conquering challenges great and small. Or in some cases, grimacing and bearing them out, one load of dishes at a time…