Autistics and Literal thinking – Time

Article by loveartpix


I wanted to create a short blog to help people understand the importance of how time keeping can really impact autistic individuals like myself. I find myself having to repeat myself over and over which can be triggering in itself. Of course i understand people are busy – unfortunately that’s the world we live in now – but i feel it’s not an excuse to not drop a short text/email which takes a minute to inform if running late.

I hope the following reiterates what I have been explaining for years to people and can possibly help others who maybe struggle and have the same issues.

For individuals on the autism spectrum, the impact of unmet promises, such as missing a scheduled call time, can be profound. This discrepancy between what was expected and what actually happens can trigger heightened levels of stress, frustration, and potentially lead to meltdowns. This reaction is often rooted in tendency towards literal thinking and a strong reliance on routines and predictability.

Acknowledgement or confirmation, through a simple text or email, is just as crucial for autistic individuals. The lack of communication regarding delays or changes in plans can also lead to heightened stress and frustration and trigger meltdowns.

For someone with autism, the ability to comprehend and anticipate social cues and changes can be really challenging. Therefore, when a promised action – like receiving a call at a specific time – is not fulfilled, it can cause massive distress. This distress may stem from a hyper focussed expectation that the promised event will occur precisely as stated, highlighting the importance of consistency and clear communication in interactions with autistic individuals.

The concept of time holds a major significance for many autistic individuals. Strict adherence to schedules and routines can sometimes become a focal point, with individuals fixating on specific times and events. This hyperfocus on time management can impact daily functioning, attention span, and ability to transition between tasks smoothly.

Repeated disappointments in time management, especially if they lead to frequent meltdowns, can have lasting effects on an individual with autism. These ongoing letdowns can result in feelings of distress, helplessness, and a sense of being misunderstood or disregarded. Over time, these experiences could potentially contribute to the development of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), particularly if they struggle with regulating emotions and coping with daily stressors.

The compounded impact of missed expectations and stress related to time management can be particularly challenging for autistic individuals due to their unique communication and sensory processing differences. The inherent difficulties they face in understanding and engaging in social interactions can be further exacerbated by disruptions in routines or unmet expectations regarding time. This combination of factors can make it harder for autistic individuals to manage and recover from such experiences, potentially leading to more intense emotional responses and increased vulnerability to conditions like CPTSD.

ART; Chronicles of Order

Vulnerable amongst a whirlwind of time and numbers showing how patterns and routines reign supreme.

In my vulnerable state I wanted to show the raw honesty and nature of how the autism experience is for me. Surrounded by chaotic numbers and clocks looking trapped, liberated and controlled by time itself.

Through chaos and order I hoped to show the unique perspective of the world and how structure, focus and time play such an important role.



Dez (loveartpix) was one of our Charity Autism Hero Awards Winners

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