Many of us Autists struggle with every day demands including making choices about what to do, where to go and what to eat.
Some demands are avoided due to extreme anxiety, sometimes I go into shutdown when being told what to do if it is new or confusing. This is also due to processing verbal instructions differently – I often get them very muddled and become overwhelmed quickly with lots of information.
I also find extreme comfort in things I know and have a lot of experience with and may totally avoid things that I think I won’t be 100% perfect at from the start.
Sometimes this avoidance is due to the intense emotional reaction I know I will have if I feel like I’ve made the wrong choice. It’s why I eat the same thing every time I go out to eat, I know what is smells and looks like, so there’s no surprises and I can’t get it wrong.
My demand avoidance is also attached to my perfectionism, which is very anxiety inducing. I need things to go to plan all of the time and find it exceedingly difficult when it doesn’t. I am very hard on myself when I make a mistake. This is made worse by my obsessive compulsive behaviours and intrusive thoughts, which don’t allow me to let things go.
Demand avoidance can stop me from looking after myself, trying something new and even doing things I really want to. However, it’s not all bad, in a lot of ways it can protect me from things I don’t want to do including peer-pressured activities which I would rather not do. It also means that I am not likely to be exploited at a place of work because I will do things in a logical and efficient way and avoid doing things in a manner in which they are preferred to be done. The words ‘because they’ve always been done this way’ means less than nothing to me.
For me, demand avoidance is connected to executive dysfunction, brain fog, baby brain, chronic pain and fatigue, anxiety, perfectionism and OCD – it’s a real complex beast! It is a double-edged sword always in use in my Neurodivergent arsenal.