I’ve wanted to write about Autistic Inertia for a while now, but ironically inertia was preventing me from doing so. It is something that almost every autistic I have spoken to has had to deal with, yet you won’t see it much in books or information written by non-autistics. And it is a very serious problem.
It’s also, as I’m finding out, very difficult to explain. I did find a good entry about it in Wikipedia
Jax Blunt offers a whole series of posts on Autistic inertia as well as the closely related subjects Burnout and Regression.
How it effects me personally is that I get “stuck” on the sofa, unable to get up and do those important tasks I simply must do. I can mull over them, have them on my schedule or to-do lists, and know that once I actually begin then things will go more smoothly.
But. I. Simply. Cannot. Move.
It’s like my legs, my muscles, are frozen and won’t do what my brain wants. Instead, I’m frozen doing whatever it is I happen to be doing on the sofa, whether it’s scrolling through blogs, playing Solitaire or reading a book. And when I get to a natural break, like the end of a chapter, my brain whispers “just read one more”. Sometimes I’m not actually doing anything, just sitting or staring a the wall or out the window. Or lying with a blanket over my head.
I can be unable to go get myself food or even go to the toilet. If someone were to bring me food, place it in my hand, I’d eat it. But to actually get off the sofa, walk into the kitchen, open the fridge, take out food, then eat it? So difficult.
It does seem to be linked to both how exhausted I am, and how much pain I’m in. My brain seems to be so preoccupied with just staying awake and distracting myself from the pain, that it cannot handle the added processing required to shift tasks.
How to overcome inertia? That’s the million dollar question. I’m sure if someone physically took my hand and pulled me up, it would work. Or if the fire alarm went off. Or if the Inertia Weevil existed. But there seem to be very few effective strategies. And believe me, I’ve asked!
I shall leave you with a quote from autistic advocate John Greally:
Inertia is not lazy, not bad, not just procrastination or short-sightedness, not hopeless, not a death-sentence…it is the absence of one tiny spark of momentum, and that usually requires a tiny speck of love or self-love to set it alight.