The older I get, the more I try to create a calm space for myself. Stress isn’t good for anyone, but particularly for autistics. The world generally causes us massive amounts of stress just being the way it is.
Home is my safe zone. And I’ve gone out of my way to try to create an environment that causes me the least amount of stress. My spouse has been really helpful and supportive in my need for calm and quiet.
Here’s what makes up my happy space on particularly stressful days:
Noise-cancelling headphones (a new addition that has done wonders for my stress).
Fleece blankets – we have six in our bedroom.
A scent I enjoy. Two of my absolute favourites are black cherry and strawberry lemonade.
A TV show. It’s usually As Time Goes By or Bake Off. Both are shows that I find incredibly relaxing.
Those are all things that help me cope on rough days.
I tried to write a definition for executive dysfunction from my perspective but the words kept getting all bungled up. So I’m including a video below by one of my favourite autistic YouTubers that does a better job than I could.
A brilliant YouTube video that goes into what executive dysfunction.
For me executive dysfunction is something that makes my life incredibly difficult. It makes meeting deadlines tough. The older I get, the more I’ve had to find ways to work around it/with it.
So, here are a few of my personal life hacks for dealing with days when executive dysfunction is being particularly difficult.
I think about the first 3 tasks I need to accomplish at the start of a day the night before (and also when I wake up. For example, I need to walk the dog, clean the downstairs bathroom, and have breakfast. If nothing else, I find it helps me focus on three things I can get done early.
Cooking. Keep it simple. I pick recipes that don’t have a million steps. If a recipe has too many steps or too many words, I get lost and don’t want to do it.
Accepting that some days I just can’t. It doesn’t make me lazy. It doesn’t mean I’m worthless. I’m just having a rough day. I can try again the next day.
Have a cleaning routine. I used to try to accomplish everything on the weekend. It often failed miserably. Now? I have a list of ‘daily tasks,’ I do one each day. I also have a list of more in-depth cleaning that I do across three months in autumn and again in spring. Even on rough days, I can usually manage one cleaning tasks (or one room.)
Finding the right level of distraction. I need white noise to accomplish stuff, otherwise the silence is too loud and distracting. I usually put on music or a TV show/movie that I’ve seen before.
What about you?
Do you deal with executive dysfunction? What are ways you’ve learned to help yourself?
I’ll be perfectly honest. April is my least favourite month because of the ableist nonsense surrounding autistic acceptance month. I spend a lot of April sharing my thoughts on Twitter. And frankly, a lot of it is negative.
One of the things that causes me great irritation in April is how autistic voices don’t LEAD the conversation on autism. So, this year, I decided to celebrate autistics. This week, I’m sharing a small selection of my favourites to follow on twitter :
In the interest of full disclosure (does anyone else love using that phrase?), I’ve written a few posts about outlines over the years. I think I even had one in January. The things is that my opinions have evolved since I began writing.
And I thought I’d revisit the subject.
The short answer to why I now use an outline is: I have a shit memory and not having an outline was affecting my ability to write a cohesive mystery series.
And that was the ‘short’ answer.
The long answer? I have a shit memory and not having an outline was affecting my ability to write a cohesive mystery series.
Looking back, my fear of outlines comes directly from learning about them in school. I hated the rigidness of them. And also, they never made sense to me. At all.
It randomly struck me last year that an outline could be whatever worked for me.
I began with a cobbled together version of a tree branch mind map. That morphed to include a bastardized version of the beat sheet. And finally, I began doing a chapter by chapter one sentence breakdown that I updated as I write.
The latter is the most recent addition.
I’ve found it really helpful was I’m writing to jot down a sentence or a thought for what’s going to come in the future chapters. With a mystery, I don’t want to be stumbling for clues as the writer. And I’ve done that a few times in the past.
It’s been a revelation toward making my writing life easier.