autistics speaking – 7: what was i doing?

25 Oct

I’ve had an idea, and hopefully I won’t be too lazy and I’ll actually do it.  I figured I’d do a post every day until Autistics Speaking on November 1st.  I’ll try to address one aspect of living with autism in each post and hopefully it will be interesting and informative.

Today’s topic is executive functioning.

Executive functioning includes the cognitive processes involved with planning, problem solving, organizing, and multi-tasking.  People with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) usually have impaired executive functioning, at least to a some degree.  This impairment is what can make us seem absent-minded, distracted, or even clueless, sometimes.

For me this impairment manifests in a variety of ways.  I am horrible at multi-tasking.  I need to concentrate on one thing at a time or nothing is going to get done.  Then, if I get distracted it takes me a long time to get focused back on what I was doing and find where I left off, or I forget what I was doing altogether.

It can also be difficult to do things in the same way as everyone else.  I have encountered work situations where I was expected to do something in the exact same way as my co-workers and I couldn’t because I have my own way of organizing tasks and ideas.  Unfortunately for me, this became a problem.

My executive functioning difficulties have caused me quite a bit of distress at certain times in my life because my episodes of  no-common-sense can be extremely embarrassing.  Just last week I ran out of gas on the highway.  It makes me feel like a total idiot.  In fact, operating a motor vehicle can be difficult for a lot of aspies, especially because of the sheer amount of multi-tasking and attention it requires.  It’s like being bombarded with input.  I didn’t get my driver’s licence until I was 22, and I know other aspies that never get theirs.  It takes a lot of practice for us and it has taken me years to feel comfortable driving.  But, apparently the concept of refueling still escapes me occasionally.

But, there is a silver lining.  When your brain doesn’t make connections in the normal way sometimes you stumble upon an idea or a way of doing something that no one has thought of before.  Every once in a while it pays off.  But in the meantime, I’ll have to continue to leave myself notes and reminders and suffer the taunts from my parents for having to bring a gas can to me on the Milroy exit ramp.

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2 Responses to “autistics speaking – 7: what was i doing?”

  1. chris feaster October 26, 2010 at 17:08 #

    I didn’t get my license till i was 19 and didn’t start driving till i was 23. but on the bright side It help because when applied for a job I had a perfect driving record. I have never ran out of gas but do often make wrong turns because i will forget of going to point A thinking i was driving to point B.

    • blackbird3398 October 26, 2010 at 20:27 #

      Thanks, Chris! It makes me feel better that about when I hear about other people having the same problem.

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