Conquer Our Fears

Conquer Our Fears

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sensitivity to Individual Routine

I believe those of us with Aspergers approach life with an individualized, unique system to navigate it, compared to your average neurotypical. We are often creatures of routine, habit, and structure, and when someone interrupts these, throwing in elements of spontaneity and expectations, it triggers us. You might write us off as rude, insensitive, self-absorbed. But I implore you to look at our own routines through a different lens.

Growing up, I would always burst into rage when my night home from school would be ruined by what my parents called "Forced Family Fun." Essentially, my night of planning to relax with some reading and Nintendo after 8 hours of being surrounded by people would be thrown out the window for time spent discussing our days (groan), going for a walk, or eating dinner together. I needed some time to be left to my own devices, to recharge in my own world, away from everyone else. My parents called this antisocial. I called this retaining sanity. See what I mean? Two different perspectives. For the life of them, my family couldn't understand why I couldn't be more like my brother and sister, who happily engaged in our "Triple F" routine without hesitation. For so many years, I felt like the black sheep of the family, never wanting to do things their way, and lashing out when their expectations were shoved upon me...until I finally made it clear what I needed from them.

As a parent, family member, friend, or significant other of someone with Aspergers, you may never truly understand why we do things the way we do them, and why we react so harshly when our routine is infringed upon, but if you want to retain a good relationship, it's imperative that you give us the space we need. Try to be sensitive to these routines, and give us advanced notice, presenting plans as an option, rather than an expectation. I guarantee you there will be a two way improvement in accommodating one another. After years of a strained relationship with my family, vocalizing this need was the most important step I had taken, and I respected them for re-framing their expectations for me. I am closer with them because of it!

What are some daily routines that you follow? Do you feel like people are sensitive to them?
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