[…] You describe introverts becoming rigid under stress.
Autistics who are under constant, intense pressure (as are many, by well-meaning parents and others who want them to function) become very rigid and black/white in their thinking, this is then taken as an inherent part of autism. If they are given less stress, their thinking ‘magically’ becomes more flexible.
[…] The closest analogy I can make is that what happens prior to initiation is like standing on the edge of a swimming pool with the intention of jumping in.
You know, that few minutes where you dip a toe in, check the temperature, adjust your suit and goggles, comment on how cold it looks, do a few arm windmills, bounce up and down, take a deep breath, then another. There’s no real point to all of those actions and the jumping in is inevitable. But not quite yet.
@neuroemergent_insurgent has an alternative perspective on EF (executive function).
She posits that EF is a set of values, not a set of skills.
Autism parents often hear from the professionals that “kids with autism thrive on routine.” On the surface this appears to be true. Autism kids are drilled to comply with a certain routine and when the routine changes, they react loudly and sometimes physically. Ergo, they must need routine.
In my opinion, professionals like routine because it makes their jobs easier. I am not convinced that encouraging such rigidity is in a child’s best interest.
To comply with a certain routine and needing to be prepared for something are not necessarily the same thing.
is change a problem for autistic people?
They say Autistic people don’t cope well with change and unexpected events, insist on routine, and can be oppositional if they don’t get what they prefer.
It’s just not that simple.
Autistic people do struggle with change and unpredictability. But it’s not just because we don’t like change.
We struggle with change because of what it costs us in terms of increased demand on our sensory system, executive function resources and how it impacts on our energy budget.
If we are well supported during a change or unexpected event we find it much easier to navigate and to manage the increased demands the new situation places on our bodies, our processing and our emotional responses to all that.
Self harm is complex and full of contradictions. Something I often remind people is that it is common in the animal kingdom. Animals and birds experiencing inescapable pain – loneliness, captivity in an unsuitable cage: too small, too stressful, too close to predator species, overcrowded, or physically ill and suffering, many will head bang, pluck their own feathers, chew or lick off their skin, tear out nails and claws. On one level, self harm is a nearly universal response to certain kinds of suffering. This is the context, the broad picture. We are mammals, part of the world, nervous systems wired this way.
Zooming right in, we get vast diversity in who, how, and why. Some find a single cause and many more a complex web of reasons, needs, struggles. […]
What it is not, and has never been, is the circle I hear so often. They self harm because they are mentally ill: we know they are mentally ill because they self harm.
We self harm because something is wrong, because of pain, because it is the best way we’ve found to meet a need we don’t understand or accept or can’t express.
Sarah K Reece
In many instances, the discourse(s) of involuntarity governs autism as a condition. Most obviously, autism is not a voluntary condition – one doesn’t choose autism, per se.
Of course, framing autism as a neurological involuntarity is a false construct. After all, does anyone really choose their neurology? And yet, even though neurotypicality is as much an involuntarity as is mental disability or neurodivergence, the construct of involuntarity is culturally inscribed into autism as a condition. Autistics wrench and scream and rock their bodies, and they have no choice; they have no agency; they project little to no rhetorical or narrativistic purpose.
Within this passivity-centric framework, involuntarity might encompass shit smearing or body rocking; it likewise encompasses any act of communication, or what white-coat types might otherwise reduce to inappropriate behaviors; it encompasses embodiment; it encompasses how one dwells in the world. It signifies a lack of purpose, a lack of audience awareness, a lack of control over one’s own person – and under the banner of person, I’m including how we conceptualize mind, body, being, and self-determination. […]