Scheduled Chaos

A few years ago I overheard a conversation where a teacher said that people with autism cannot handle many different responsibilities at the same time. I wanted to step in and comment, but I didn’t.

At the time, I was in about 15 different extracurricular activities. I had founded a club; I was president of another club; I was in the student body; I was essentially the team captain of our junior varsity water polo team; and I held various other positions of leadership in clubs and at church. Needless to say, I had many different responsibilities, and I thrived on those responsibilities. I loved having something to do all the time and being part of things that were bigger than me.

This week has been similar in the scheduled chaos. It seems that the more I learn the more I can add to my to-do list. And it can be stressful at times, but I thrive on the ability to stay busy and push myself to my limits. The biggest problem I have is going from that productive busyness to a lull of unscheduled free time. It makes me feel uneasy and I contemplate my weaknesses and mistakes.

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this other than to just say that it depends on the person how much they can handle. Whether you have autism or not, we all have preferences on how much we like to do at one time. Some people can handle a lot of different things at the same time and some people would get overwhelmed with just a few things at the same time.

Autism itself doesn’t affect ability to balance life activities. Autism makes it hard to cope with change and that can make it hard to cope with multiple activities. Autism can make things feel like a barrage of sensory attacks that can make activities hard to handle. Autism can make it hard to understand different activities and therefore makes it nearly impossible to participate in multiple activities at once. But… you can have autism and thrive on being “crazy busy” as long as it is scheduled chaos.

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