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Discussion Forum > Procrastination, Laziness -- S.T.R.E.S.S.

What looks like laziness is often S.T.R.E.S.S. -- handout from Aspergers' parents' class.

I recently took a class for parents whose kids with AS. (The title works the other way, too. Parents with AS. It's highly heritable, and many of the parents recognized AS traits in themselves, once they knew what to look for.)

One of the acronyms was STRESS.

When kids with AS (and quite likely humans in general) don't do something right away, do not assume the worst. Chances are the child wants to please you, and wants the project to be done (or otherwise go away). Do not assume they are defying you, want to make you angry, or don't care.

The problem is likely one of the following:

Steps: Pretty much Dave Allen's Next Action. E.g., the next step is unclear, too large, or isn't actually the next step. Break it down into something that is actionable. E.g., Find the page with the project requirements.

Thinking: Child is using negative self-talk. Anything that beats them down or drains energy. Also anything that brings on the fight-or flight reaction. (Parent, teacher, all sorts of things might be inadvertently reinforcing this, including "You should be done done by now," and "You should try harder.")

Research: They need more data, and often they don't realize it. They think they have what they need, or that they should have what they need. (I think this is related to Next Action. Identify what they need and how to get it.)

Emotion / Trauma: Bad associations. These often appear irrational on the surface, but there's often a reason. Even if there isn't, the association is real. Process the blockage (possibly therapy), outsource the task, or pair it with something that gives you positive emotions. Some children associate asking for help, or even a parent noticing that they're working, finally! with unhelpful responses.

Sensory Issues: Some part of the task may over- or under-stimulate their senses. This is an important part of AS and autism. It's hard to concentrate on the project when the clothing label is driving you nuts, or you smell supper cooking. It's hard to concentrate on the numbers when your brain craves more action. Try decreasing the strong sensations (wear gloves, turn down the lights, move your desk to a quieter area) and adding sensations (music, white noise, coffee shop, outside, food or drink, scented candles, replace chair with ball). Yes, many people do work better in high-activity environments.

(I don't care how many experts say a quiet room is best. Actually talk to the people with the condition! My coach/therapist also runs a support group. It's combined ADHD and ASD, since there's a lot of overlap. Many of us have tried both, and find that being surrounded by small distractions works better. Our attention leaves the task, wanders to the nearest interesting thing, quickly gets bored, then goes back to the task. This is different from having FaceBook and Email calling.)

Self-Care: They're low in something essential, like rest, sleep, vitamins, socializing, blood sugar, exercise. Identify possible cause, set a timer, care for yourself, then try the task again. This is intentional self-care. Healthy things in moderation, as opposed to "I need a break. FaceBook, here I come."

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Generations of Therapists (Cricket's theory)

The first generation worked on correcting behaviour. Pay attention. Look me in the eye. Behave or be punished. Don't be rude. You don't have the same facial expression as others when you lost your pet. That means you don't feel emotion and don't recognize it in others.

The second generation actually talked with the people and asked questions. Is it easier or harder to pay attention when you look me in the eye? Is there a reason you aren't doing what we expect? Did you know that was rude? How are you feeling? How do you think S is feeling?

The third generation is the people themselves, many of whom are now therapists and coaches. Yes, it's much harder to pay attention to your words when I also have to look you in the eye. No, I didn't know that was rude. It wasn't rude when you did it yesterday. Yes, I feel emotion, often very strongly. Why do you ask? I didn't know that's what a sad face looks like. (ASD often associated with fewer mirror neurons) I said, "It's OK, you still have other pets," because if I had lost my pet, spending time with my other pets would help me feel better.
May 31, 2017 at 19:21 | Registered CommenterCricket
Thanks for posting this, Cricket. It's so enlightening.
June 1, 2017 at 8:02 | Unregistered CommenterChris Cooper