Friday, July 8, 2011

Autistic Routine

One characteristic of different types of autism is the presence of a rigid routine in daily life.  This routine differs between autistic people and is followed reverently.  To an autistic person, a deviation in the routine that they are used to represents a total loss of order in their lives.  This is demonstrated in the film "Rain Man" where breaks in the routine of the autistic man displayed by Dustin Hoffman result in shocking public tantrums.  In the case of Hoffman's character, this routine depended on viewing certain TV shows at certain times, eating breakfast a certain way, things of that nature.

The presence of this routine is calming for a person with autism.  In their mind, the break in routine creates an irrational sense of fear.  This problem has never really affected me the way it affects others with autism.  I am trying to interpret this behavior using the few instances I have had where something unexpected occurred and I had to adapt.

There have been instances where an item that I was searching for, such as a charging cord, was not where I expected it to be.  I would enter my autistic mind and search mindlessly for the object of desire, always passing by the places where I expect it to be while feeling a sense of loss.  This actually did happen earlier this week as I was searching for the charging cord for my Nintendo DS.  The loss of this cord (which was eventually found) meant that I could not follow the routine that I have established in recent weeks and play my video games while watching TV.  I would have to find something else to do with my time, which my autistic mind resisted.  Eventually I calmed down and started occupying my time doing other things, but the autistic mind, when it is set in a routine, is determined to mindlessly follow through with that routine, whatever it is. 

My symptoms are much milder than others who have different forms of autism.  Even so, with the cooperation of friends and family, I don't see any reason why both the autistic individual and their loved ones can't both be satisfied with the lives they lead.

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