People with Asperger are known for being very ritualistic or obsessed with our routines to a point some people could say is almost OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). As an educated male, who is well aware of my patterns and how they could be considered a waste of time, I nevertheless am not immune horrible at fighting my natural instincts. People with Asperger, however are not alone in our strict adherence to our routines, I am looking at you black hat religious community and how you pray three times a day always at the exact same times. In addition, you could also say that most successful people keep to a pretty strict routine that doesn’t vary very much. They call making sure that your pee breaks don’t last any longer than three minutes or your breakfast doesn’t take longer than ten minutes good time management skills. Therefore, you could even say some of the skills to be successful in any and all endeavours come naturally to us.
My particular routine is that whenever I sit down to a computer the first thing I have to do is check my Facebook and Gmail accounts to see if I have any messages. Not that I am ever expecting important messages I mean, who sends important messages on Facebook. If the only way that you have to get hold of the other person is to send them a Facebook message, no matter how important the message is to you, it really isn’t that important to the other person after all you’re just a Facebook friend. All of my closest kith and kin have my phone number and can reach me on it whenever they want. I will never get a message that one of my friends locked themselves out of their car and they need me to go and pick them up on Facebook. My workplace is never going to try and reach me to over me extra hours on my Facebook account. Yet every single time I sit down to a computer the first thing I do is check my Facebook and then my gmail account for messages.
I can hardly be faulted for wasting my time in this way, however, I mean who doesn’t check their Facebook messages at least thirty times a day, just religious, old people and those who are successful and effective, but that really makes up a small percentage of all the people I know. Heck, being a comedian is all about seeing how people are wasting their time in order to make topical jokes. That and letting our brains wander because the subconscious bored mind is much better at noticing funny idiosyncratic behaviour than someone consciously looking for it. I mean good luck at coming up with a good joke when your mind is occupied with trying to write an essay about the history of the American constitutional system for a paper or when you have other deadlines looming over your head and occupying your thoughts. Therefore, good comedians or artists or philosophers in general are likely to take routine jobs which allow them the time and freedom to let their mind wander wherever it wants to go. Yet somehow I still need get the nagging feeling that I am not making the best use of my time.
Following patterns in our routines makes people feel comfortable because it allows us to know what will happen next. We hate having our routine messed with, but, so do lots of people. I doubt if you drove a business executive into the middle of the woods and took away all of his communicating devices he would be very happy either. He would especially be unhappy when you hit him over the head multiple times so you could put a black mask over his face and not let him see where he was going. It would take him a long time to get his life back in order, emotionally and physically as he tried to figure out a way of getting out of there and making his way back home or his routine activities. In addition, his brain would take some time to adjust back to his old routine. Therefore, routine things like driving that used to be relaxing and allow your mind to drift while you problem solved obstacles that occurred in your week or day take longer to return to old habits.
That is sort of how we feel when we miss our favourite television shows or someone sits in our seat in front of the television while watching a sporting event. It leaves us wondering what would have happened if we were sitting in our seat. Would the result be any different? Would our team be winning instead of losing the game? Would our favourite player made a good play instead of turning the ball/puck over? This can keep us awake at night thinking about how different things would have gone if our routine hadn’t been changed. Then we started thinking that we were overdramatic and question if we made too big of a deal over nothing. Maybe the results would have been the exact same and therefore we owe everyone an apology for throwing a tantrum and a plate against the wall. Maybe we should have cleaned up the mess we made. Then we convince ourselves that we were in the right and were justified in our actions. After all fate is not something that should be trifled with lightly. All the meanwhile, you are distracted from what you should have been thinking about which was what to do about the school bully, or the girl who you have a crush on and totally froze and became tongue-tied when trying to ask her out.
It is also hard to establish, change or break routines. I mean if I could create a better routine every time I sat down at a computer than checking Facebook, like writing a few new jokes or an article I would. I just am obsessed that someone is going to write me a message telling me something I need to know or invite me to something and that it will be time sensitive so they’ll need me to get back to them right away. That or check how many people liked my last Facebook status because I am egotistical like that. Generally there has been no change and that nothing in my world has really changed. You just never know. However, after you have started doing something routinely it is pretty hard to break and then start a new routine. Just ask all the people with weight problems about that. Smoking is the same principal once you become addicted to a way of doing something or doing it at all it is pretty hard to break. I mean I tried to quit using Facebook a million times, but, have simply been unable to cut down or break the filthy habit. It just makes me feel so dirty about myself afterwards. Knowing that everyone else is having a better time than me or seeing the stupid motivational quotes that mean nothing like. Like believe in yourself, or you will never know how great you really are. Boring. I mean there are a million diets out there to help you break your food habits but very little out there about how to break your technological habits. The only options that seem to be offered are to cut down gradually or to quit visiting social media sites cold turkey. Two options compared to the millions for changing your eating habits.
Another one of my routines is eating a banana every morning before I do anything else. Turns out bananas are very good for your mood and help explain why I am less grouchy afterwards. This is no different than anyone else who needs to start their morning off with pop tarts coffee or meth. Okay, well, it’s very different than the last one. I mean people who start their morning off with meth generally have a hard time getting to their jobs on time or paying any of their bills. Other than that the three are all the exact same, while, except for the fact that bananas are the only one that is actually good for you.
My point in all this is that I really don’t understand when people complain that people on the Autism spectrum are obsessed with routines as if it’s a bad thing.