Francesca Baird: Autism and Tidying

contents of my car

The following is a short extract from my book:  ‘Label Me: My Journey Towards an Autism Diagnosis’

Extract from ‘Normal Life’Autism and Tidying

I do tidy from time to time and I never let it get completely out of hand. However, it requires a certain mindset to allow my brain to engage in such an activity. I don’t mind doing the dishes because it is repetitive and does not require much in the way of mental processing and decision making: fill the dishwasher and empty it. Everything has its place in a predetermined cupboard. In the cupboard to the right of the oven, the cups, which are all different sizes, are precariously placed one on top of another, resembling the Leaning Tower of Pisa – space utilisation at its best. The pots and pans are thrown into a pre-assigned cupboard on the left of the oven and the cutlery… well that funnily enough, lives in the cutlery drawer. Easy peasy. Well, you would think so wouldn’t you? Despite my good intentions, I often find myself emptying half of the dishwasher before something distracts me and I wander off to do something else. You see, my problem is that I can only do one thing at a time and I really struggle to organise my mind in a way that allows for a structured method of tidying.
Say, for example, after half an hour’s worth of deliberation and mental preparation, I consciously decide to hoover the living room. On my way to the hoover – which resides in the hall – I come across one of Oscar’s jumpers on the floor. What do you think I do with it? I either step over it or put in on the radiator next to me in the living room just to move it out of the way. Why do I not put it in its rightful place you ask, in his bedroom? Before you say it, no, it is not because I am a lazy bitch… not on this occasion anyway. It is because my mind can only focus on one task at a time. If I put the jumper in Oscar’s room, then I will be required to take a detour and the mental distraction will throw me off course and the hoovering will not get done. Something might get done, but it sure as hell won’t be the hoovering.
Picture – The contents of my car, removed before it went into the garage to be repaired
Francesca Baird: Blogging about Autism – Embracing Normal Life

This section: Label Me: Francesca Baird blogging about autism

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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