Tuesday, August 13, 2013

In which Anonymus Maximus talks about Executive Dysfunction and Food.

The thing about being Clinically Quirky is that it makes life harder than baseline.
It might mean you have no energy, it might mean your memory doesn't necessarily function in a reliable fashion, it means, it means time is confusing and without meaning, it means that you want to do things but can't make yourself start, it means you have difficulties seeing the point of doing things, it means sequencing things is difficult, and too many steps seem to fall in an unorganised pile around you and the thought of sorting it out is just too overwhelming. It means that you don't know where to start. It means that you don't know that a thing needs doing.

Do you guys know how hard it is to make a sandwich?

  1.  Realise that you are hungry.
  2. Figure out that the soloution to this is to eat.
  3.  Disentangle yourself from the current activity.
  4. Relocate to location with foodmaking capacity.
  5.  Think of something to eat.
  6. Decide what to eat.
  7.  Think of what is needed to make that thing.
  8. Remember all parts that go into it.
  9.  Locate bread.
  10. Open cupboard - get bread.
  11.  Close cupboard.
  12. Get cutting board.
  13.  Get knife with serrated edge.
  14. Cut bread.
  15.  Open fridge.
  16. Get butter.
  17.  Get cheese.
  18. Get cucumber.
  19.  Close fridge.
  20. Get butter knife.
  21.  Spread butter on bread slices.
  22. Get cheese slicer.
  23.  Estimate number of cheese slices required.
  24. Slice cheese.
  25.  Place cheese on bread.
  26. Get quick peeler.
  27.  Estimate number of cucumber slices required.
  28. Slice cucumber.
  29.  Place cucumber on bread.
  30. Put lid back on butter.
  31.  Put cheese back into its container.
  32. Put cucumber into bag.
  33.  Open fridge.
  34. Put all chilled foodstuffs back.
  35.  Close fridge.
  36. Open cupboard.
  37.  Get plate.
  38. Put bread back into cupboard.
  39.  Put sandwich onto plate.
  40. Store away the dishes.

That is 40 steps. I am by no means saying that it is always this hard, and always translates to all these steps. But on a bad day? On a bad day there are more. The step remeber where the bread goes is in there. The step remember what goes on bread is in there. And this is just for a piece of bread, with some butter, cheese and cucumber on it. The bread isn't even toasted.
Do you realise how hard it can be to make a sandwich?

So when Anonymus Maximus and Partner have the following conversation, Partner think they are being helpful:

AM: "I'm hungry."
P: "Go make a sandwich."

And they are. They are reminding me that the soloution to being hungry is to eat, and that one thing one can eat is a sandwich, which is also a good thing. But it is nowhere near as simple as "go make a sandwich".
And sometimes I think there should be a better way of getting people to understand executive dysfunction than writing out the steps they think are intuitive.
This isn't a problem just for autistic people and the autistic cousin diagnoses. Although ADHD is pretty much defined by executive dysfunction, and SPD seems related to executive dysfunction on top of making it difficult to feel hunger, it also concerns depression, OCD, any form of disordered eating, heck, even migraines. Most forms of badbrains, if we're honest.

Lastly: The way I self-accomodate this problem is to make these lists. The ones that look absurd, with far too detailed instructions on how to do things. Because I can do them when I have spoons. And I can use them when I don't have spoons, because they tell me exactly what to do, and in what order.

Added August 21: Since posting this, a friend of mine has actually started on a project, The Bad Brains Cookbook, cooking for folks with executive dysfunction issues. Go check it out!

Added October 3: The Bad Brains Cookbook has a blog of it's own! Over at badbrainscookbook.blogspot.com!