A lot of us Autistic people struggle with switching from one activity to the next, and we often need a lot of prompts and reminders to finish what we are doing to start something else.
Personally, I like to have a similar routine every week so I know what my expectations are on any given day. It also makes organising for it a lot easier and less stressful. I am completely reliant on my diary and find it difficult to do more than one or two organised things a day (see What’s Spoons got to do with it?).
I’m in my 30s and still benefit from:
*Being told who will be at an event or situation.
*What to bring with me.
*What other people are likely to wear.
*How long it’ll be and whether there will be food and drinks.
I find surprises absolutely awful, even when they’re nice surprises, because I wasn’t given enough ‘prep time’ to process what was happening and what people expect me to react like. Its for reasons like this that I hate being sung Happy Birthday too – I just genuinely have no idea what to do with myself whilst people sing and stare at me!
Usually, I need at least 10-15 mins to transition from one thing to another. I also need a clear reason why I am switching like: ‘it’s lunchtime and you need to eat’. This may also be due to demand avoidance (see Why I struggle with demands).
The picture on Tendril Theory is probably the most accurate (though not quite scientific!) explanation I have found on transitions for Autistic people. It very much speaks to me on a personal level. This picture and idea was created by E is for Erin.