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Why is change hard for autistic people?


Why is change hard for some Autistic people?


So, today is the last day of term for my eldest, and there were all sorts of changes and a graduation event for parents to attend…. He's been planning and mulling and adapting for this happening over some weeks now… getting things straight in his head of how things would be so he was comfortable with it…… and then the rain came…. Meaning what was going to be an outdoor event had to have some last-minute minor changes; this immediately sent him into a spin, and he became very anxious and dysregulated.

I'm going to explain a bit about why that might have happened…. Because to most people, "no drama, what was outside will now take place inside," but for a lot of Autistic or otherwise ND folx, it's not that simple ……. we think in great detail!!


Many of us have a tricky time with something called executive function; there are three main areas of executive function. They are:


1. Working memory The ability to hold information in your short-term memory.


2. Cognitive flexibility Cognitive flexibility enables an individual to work efficiently to disengage from a previous task, reconfigure a new response set, and implement this new response set to the task at hand.


3. Inhibitory control (which includes self-regulation) Also known as response inhibition, it is a cognitive process and, more specifically, an executive function – that permits an individual to inhibit their impulses and natural, habitual, or dominant behavioral responses to stimuli (a.k.a. prepotent responses) in order to select a more appropriate behavior that is consistent with completing their goals.


Now, if you are or have a neurodivergent person in your life then like me, you have almost choked laughing at how impossible that is for some of us!


So here's the thing…. My boy has spent many spoons planning and organising, challenging his working memory to come up with a plan and file it away and process it so he could cope with today's event. Then a massive demand was put on his cognitive flexibility, which threw all the details back into the forefront. He then had to process through AGAIN …and cope with the pressure that there was no processing time as the event was happening. Today!


He pulled it off like a trooper, and I'm super proud, but the fact remains…. It's bloody hard!

So I guess my point is when people who don't get it say things like, "oh well, it's just a small change, I don't see the issue," and when they completely invalidate our experience it really, REALLY bakes my beans and goes to show how little is understood about ND experience.

Don't get me wrong, though… we excel in many areas, and next, I think I'll talk about monotropic thinking… because it's not all doom and gloom… we have some huge advantages. But today, I wanted to share the why's behind our experiences.


Hope that helps Much Love Tanya <3


To book a consultation or get intouch please use the contact tab or email info@tanyaadkin.co.uk


#ActuallyAutistic #SEND #ExecutiveFunction

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