I am one of the most structured, unstructured people I know. I have to have a daily routine. There can be no variation. Should there be an unexpected bump, it is like my life has been turned upside down. If I go out, my routine has just been destroyed for that day. If my small son doesn’t take a nap, my routine has just been destroyed for that day. You get the picture.
I didn’t realize just how important routine was to me until recently. My love decided that he was going to give a coworker driving lessons. Yes, he really is that nice of a guy. It so happened that time that they had agreed upon was evening … right after work hours. According to my daily routine, that is the time that I speak to him before heading to bed (that is when I am away). Believe it or not, speaking with him before I go to bed helps me sleep. Again, the whole routine thing.
The very first time he took his coworker driving, I was a anxiety-ridden wreck of a person. See, he had told me that he would let me know when he got home, so we could talk a bit. He even added that he wasn’t going to be out late. I believed him and thought that it really wouldn’t be a big deal.
Boy, was I ever wrong. It WAS a big deal. I stressed. I worried. I nearly made myself sick. And then, I went to bed, only to toss and turn all night. It was the worst night of my life. And I am not exaggerating.
For people like me, routine is a very powerful motivator. It’s so strong that even the slightest deviation could potentially cause a meltdown, panic attack, or nervous breakdown. I wish I could say that as time passes, the lost feeling that comes with loss of routine becomes less and less. It doesn’t.
It is imperative for family members and friends of Aspies (or any person on the spectrum) to be understanding. Sticking to a routine is key. The anxiety is real, and it can be debilitating.