A challenge for me to deal with living on the Spectrum is dealing with those around me who are lax when it comes to rules. I am a firm believer in holding fast to rules instead of breaking them. Thus, I sometimes run smack dab into meltdown country when engaged with those of my fellow kindred who think of rules as guidelines.
An example is if I ever have to give a briefing and it is only to be 15 minutes long. I will not run over 15 minutes if that long. If I am having to listen to someone speaking and their speech is supposed to be over at a certain time and that time has passed, I will feel like I have ants in my pants.
Librarians can relate to this story about borrowers who don’t observe the rule of “date due”. Years ago, I had a library job where I was in charge of borrowing and returning books received on loan from other libraries around the country. I hated this job with a passion! In retrospect after my diagnosis late last year, I can clearly see how my autism spectrum disorder (ASD) had a lot to do with the job being a bad fit. It required more social interaction than my previous library catalog officer position which fit me as comfortable as an old shoe. The other drawback was I couldn’t return a book until the borrower returned it to the library.
Most borrowers did abide by the due date, but there were a few who consistently returned books late. I wonder if late borrowers look upon “due dates” as mere suggestions. Every episode of having to wait for an overdue book to be returned was emotionally draining. I could not relate because the only reason I wouldn’t return something before its due date would be if I was in a coma. Okay, I’m exaggerating but not by much.
My rule-thinking does not turn off when I go shopping. For instance, I take a sign on an express lane, such as “15 items or less”, LITERALLY! I am a frequent express lane shopper since it is my routine not to shop with a need of a cart. If I were a full-cart shopper, one wouldn’t catch me in an express line unless I genuinely didn’t realize I was in one. I am not a happy camper standing in a line behind the person(s) who can’t count or doesn’t take 15 literally (16, 17, 18, items are okay).
Behind the wheel, I can’t say I’m always at or under the speed limit. I just can’t watch the speedometer like a hawk. My ASD doesn’t help make me a prime candidate for best driver on the road either. It’s always a challenge having to do multiple tasks at a time and to be quick on my feet as you sometimes have to be for road survival. But most rules on the road I follow. Such as I move over well in advance to make my exit off the highway. Even if I have to sit in a long line waiting to exit, I will take my place and wait it out too. If I am in the other lane where traffic is backed up because there is a driver(s) trying to merge over at the last minute instead of taking their turn in the long line of traffic waiting to exit, I am in meltdown country taking it out on my steering wheel and floorboard!
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take rules less literally. I don’t mean turning into an anarchist, but to not be a stickler on every rule I cross paths with. Such as turning a library book in one day late and see if anything horrific happens. Or clocking in at work, on purpose, one minute late to see if I turn into a pumpkin or not. I’m being sarcastic. The truth is I can only wonder since it just isn’t in my brain’s wiring to thumb my nose at the rulebook.