With working memory as gosh-awful as mine, I look for ways to simplify things as much as possible.
The easier complex ideas are to explain to people the easier they are to talk about and help people understand.
Defining autism for example, has been tricky because there’s still debate about exactly what it is. So I came up with a definition that works for me and one I’ve used for years.
The way I define the autism spectrum is “the ongoing struggle to stay calm and focused with a globally disorganized nervous system.”
If you live with anxiety it’s difficult to plan, remember, take action, concentrate. But when you’re able to calm your anxiety your focus improves which improves decision making, concentration and organization.
When you’re emotionally dysregulated and enter fight or flight you don’t think clearly and everything is in panic mode.
Once you deescalate and calm down your focus returns and your thoughts become more reasonable.
Calm and focus are two experiences people living with autism and adhd need to work for continuously.
Through stimming, repetitive habits or thought patterns, avoiding or seeking particular sensory input (e.g. hugging, smelling, tapping, snapping, pacing) all to maintain calm and focus.
When your executive functions are particularly lacking you’re likely not calm and focused and needing some self-care or assistance to get things done.
That’s a solid criteria you can use before taking a test, making an important decision or having an important conversation, “Am I calm and focused?”
If not, “What must I do to become so?”
Do you need to stretch, run, meditate, lie under a weighted blanket, take a cold shower, etc.
Find your recipe and follow it often to keep yourself as engaged in life as you can.
Simple, straightforward, powerful.