Photo Courtesy of http://gratisography.com
May have noticed that the frequency of blog posts has slowed, almost to a crawl, the last month. Well, I’m back in the classroom teaching a four-week course. My responsibility is to cover a normal 16-week semester’s worth of material in one-quarter of the time. Every day is a mad rush, more than usual for a time-challenged Aspie.
I recall being strongly and, shall we say, ardently encouraged by one of my parents to be better at managing and develop awareness of time. Yeah, the states of hyper-focus into which a person with Asperger’s often enters are states of absolute timelessness, like experiencing the view at the horizon from an ocean shore. There is no conception of time when in such a state. All that matters is the activity in which one is engaged.
Twice in my teaching career, though, not at my present institution, I have been in such a focused state of sublime concentration, doing some activity to advance my research program, only to realize, 20 minutes after the calendar reminder pop-up appeared on my computer screen, that my calendar pop-up reminder is on my computer screen reminding me that class is starting in 10 minutes, making me now 20 minutes late for class.
After the customary profane expression, bursting out of my office I went in vain attempts to salvage those class sessions then, later called into the department Chair’s office for a dress down because students complained about my tardiness. The tradeoffs working at a university or college that is primarily a teaching institution where the “students are our customers” attitude prevails. (Que, eye roll now). Remind me what’s the mission of a university or college?
I digress. Back to Aspie time.
In terms of how having been struck twice with Asperger’s in our family, time management can be a challenge. Then, you add the fact that being on time is tremendously important to my lovely wife, and her conception of on time is early, we have perfect conditions for rather explosive experiences.
Fortunately, my lovely wife is much more analytical in her approach to assisting her two Aspies with staying as close to on schedule as possible. Sometimes a single strategy suffices, usually different strategies are employed by my wife toward my son and I. Should emphasize here that my lovely wife approaches this challenge from the stance of wanting to lovingly help, not harangue and shame into action. That makes all the difference and requires her to be flexible. Below, is a brief list of what she does to help us be close to her version of on time:
- Preventing meltdowns: constant reminders days / hours before a scheduled activity or event works very well, for us, to prevent meltdowns when it is time to get ready or leave.
- Initiating smooth transitions: constant reminders days / hours before a scheduled activity or event helps to condition her two Aspies to stopping one routine and starting another. This is known as transitioning. Aspies don’t react well to (unexpected) transitions.
- She plans our departure time 30 minutes to an hour before we actually need to depart. And then sits and watches with amusement, as I experience the stress of getting ready when one thinks one is late. I find out in the car that, once again, I’ve been duped, tricked, and manipulated by the woman I love. But, I love her, so I don’t care. Honestly, I find it funny realizing that my wife has such control and that I am repeatedly so gullible. Aspie’s always are!
- My wife and I usually have a plan-an-activity discussion so that we can know each other’s expectations for the activity. Usually, this is more me getting on the same page with my wife so that there are no surprises for me or my son.
In the end, we aren’t always on time, avoid meltdowns, or difficult transitions even with putting in the days or hours’ worth of preparation. These strategies nonetheless help us with our son and as my wife puts it, helps her manage me. Don’t mind being “managed” by her, happy wife, happy life, as they say. And if that means she thinks she manages me, all the better. At least, that’s what I tell myself….