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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Don’t Interrupt an Autistic Engaged in Their Special Interest

This morning I really wanted to write. All week long my mind kept adding ideas for essays and I was excited to finally have a weekend to myself to write to my heart’s content.

I tucked myself into bed bright and early and happily typed away. Between each essay, I got up to do something physical, like unload the dishwasher or pick up my closet. I kept my phone on silent and would happily go back to my writing as soon as my task was done.

As I reached the afternoon, the weather became nicer outside and I decided it would be nice to move outside to sit on the porch with my dog while I wrote an essay. I like the fresh air, getting to see the mountains, and for Egon to have a little more visual stimulation from people walking by and such.

What I forgot is that exposure to the outside world means exposure to distractions. As I was typing away, my neighbor came out of her apartment and asked how my separation anxiety training is going with Egon. I’ve been practicing leaving Egon home alone for longer and longer periods of time.

I mentioned that I thought it was going pretty well. Then she told me that he howls when I’m gone. Then she said, “Well, it’s more like a high pitched scream.” I’ve heard him do this sometimes when he’s very excited to see me. It is extremely jarring.

I was horrified to learn he is making this noise while I am gone. First, it bothers me that Egon is in this much distress. Second, it upsets me that my neighbor has to deal with hearing that kind of noise. I limit my time away from Egon to 4 hours, but even that length of time would be awful to hear a dog suffering.

Collage by Jackie Schuld of a mythical cat creature with the words "I've got shit to do, things to take care of, business to attend to."
Collage by Jackie Schuld

From the minute she told me I couldn’t think of anything else. I wanted to research all the different training techniques, since what I’m doing clearly isn’t working. My ability to write was suddenly gone. So was my enthusiasm.

I was mad. I was so excited to write before. I loved the flow I was in and now my mind was abruptly ripped from it and I couldn’t insert myself back in.

This has happened to me many times before. When I write, which is one of my special interests, I hate to be interrupted. Many times people have commented on how upset and scary my face looks when they even just ask me a quick question. I don’t intend to mean mug them, it just happens naturally.

I am so entrenched in what I am doing that it is genuinely perturbing for something else to enter my environment.

I also want to keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t want to lose the flow. As an autistic, I’m only granted so many hours in the day where I feel like I have my full energy and focus. I don’t want to lose that time or have it derailed.

This is why I usually hole up so that no one and nothing can interrupt me. I understand that sometimes interruptions are necessary… but oh how I hate them.


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