Autistic inertia…

…or why when there’s too many options you can’t move!

This is a good understanding of autistic inertia by autisticality:

“Inertia doesn’t mean laziness, or not wanting to do things, or procrastinating – although it can look like all of those things. But sometimes it also looks like mania, obsessiveness, or even a burst of motivation. Because inertia just means difficulty changing state, and that original state can be anything. The simplest explanation for how inertia looks and feels: sometimes an autistic person ends up doing something they don’t want to be doing, or not doing something they do want to be doing.

“When an autistic person has stopped for the day, or taken a break, or taken a vacation, it can be difficult to restart. This may look like resistance to getting out of bed in the morning, not necessarily because the person is tired, but because the steps to doing so are overwhelming. ” – Divergent Minds

“This is how Autistic Inertia affects me. I sit in my room. I should be doing something, I want to be doing something, but I just can’t get started on anything. I end up sitting there doing nothing, or sitting and stimming. And it physically hurts, sitting there knowing you have a few hours to do what you want but you can’t get off the chair and start doing anything. And I don’t even know what I want to do. I literally feel inert, like I can’t move. My brain feels like it’s being contained or bound, and when I think about doing something it pushes against those bounds. ” – No Longer in a Box

What to do about it? 

For SYA?s Chloe and Annette, they talk about having too many options that you can’t decide what to do with yourself, and consequently end up doing nothing. One way around this is to plan, or limit your options to only one or two. 

“Because really, free time gives you a lot of different choices so maybe the one I can do just hasn’t entered my brain because I’m too busy trying to force myself to do something else.

So I’ve made a list, on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. I used the computer to print out, in bold letters, anything I’d like to do during my free time. “Orchestration Assignment” (that’s actually one I HAVE to do), “Math Book”, “Cleaning”, “Minecraft”, and stuff like that.

I think my inertia was a processing problem, I was having trouble connecting from “free time now” to “what should we do?” so I was perpetually stuck at “free time now” which left me frozen, unable to do anything with this free time. My list brought me back and reminded me “this is what free time means” and then I had every activity in front of me to choose from.” – No Longer in a Box 

Inertia can be a good thing once you get going, as you’re likely to keep that level up – but this can also be exhausting. But like anything, knowing that we do this is a good step to coming up with ways to overcome, or accept, it. 

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