What makes autistic people like routine?
Like routine….Hmmm, I am not sure that I would put it that way.
It is more that I dislike not having sameness.
Remember me and the purple crayon?
Well, it is kind of like that. You REALLY REALLY want to try something else, but there is nothing else that seems quite as likable.
Let’s visit Natalie’s Chez Autism restaurant and let us see what we have had on the menu over the last few years….
Neurotypicals usually do not like sameness…they experience something called hedonic adaptation, with almost everything.
Have a look at the graph below, with neurotypicals in black and autistics in purple. When I drink a smoothie, I love it day after day after day after day… You get the picture.
When a neurotypical eats, has sex with someone, etc. their pleasure quickly decreases. Hence why neurotypicals say things like: “It does not matter where you get your appetite, as long as you come home and eat.” when referring to being sexually aroused to people when they are out in their day and then coming home to have sex with their partner. It is also why neurotypicals lie to their partners about who they are thinking about during sex.
Let’s go back to the purple line…that is me again with my partner. I adore them day after day after day…I don’t want to be thinking about someone else. I am lala, gaga, over them, just like I was the day I fell in love.
And whether it is four hours or four seconds….when I see them this is how I react:
So what about sameness in my day…like my routine?
Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday
Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday
And yes I know my hair looks the same…I have had the same hairdresser, a guy named Fritz for 30 years now…doing the same cut…I will admit I once tried a different cut I was very unhappy.
And what happens if you try to change any of this for me…
As I said…I am not sure that I like routine, I just like sameness, and don’t like change.
In an unpredictable world, routine provides the framework for our day. Routine is created by us in order to minimize sensory experiences and avoid overstimulation in the day-to-day experiences that non-autistic people find normal. If our routine is disturbed everything feels precarious, like the floor dropping out from under us. This can result in us being quite rigid about our routines and yet at the same time, we can feel imprisoned by our routine.