“You’ll See Someone At Some Point.”: Autism and Day Schedules

I have been thinking a lot about my day schedule lately. It’s okay. Not good. Far from perfect. My assigned staff gets slightly annoyed when I point out it’s far from perfect. She thinks – and I honestly can’t blame her – that it wouldn’t be perfect until I got one-on-one 24/7. I at one point actually told my staff so (well, not exactly 24/7) – which is why I can’t blame them for thinking this. It’s not true though. I need time to sleep, to blog, to read and just to be by myself. I would indeed go crazy if I had someone in my room around the clock.

In fact, when I was talking to my home’s behavior specialist on Tuesday, I told her I could do with longer periods of alone time than the 30 minutes at a time I have now. That is, if staff stuck to the, say, 45 minutes we agreed upon. In fact, I’d love that, as 30 minutes isn’t enough to do any sort of longer meaningful activity alone, like blogging. By extending my alone times from 30 to 45 minutes (or occasionally longer), I could then lessen the number of them and by extension have longer times of supported activity, so that I could actually do something like do a bigger clay project.

This, obviously, isn’t possible at this home. Not only because staff need to leave my room at least every hour for one thing or another, but also because they need to switch as often too, sometimes without warning.

This is where I get really annoyed. I mean, I know that most pro-neurodiversity autistics despise day schedules, but mostly (I assume) because they are imposed upon them in behavioral settings etc. I actually thrive on a day schedule, but it has to be followed. I personally don’t mind Colette de Bruin’s system of What, Where, When, With Whom and What after that, as long as I have a say in the contents of my day schedule.

In my case, the “Where” is usually clear, although it does happen sometimes that I get taken into the communal room without having been given a choice, because “it’s fun”. The “When”, not so much. I do have times on my day schedule, but these are “approximates”. A few days ago, when we didn’t have dinner until six o’clock, whereas the regular time is five, this “approximate” was used against me. I don’t call that approximate.

The “With Whom” isn’t clear at all. Staff don’t tell us clients who will be working the next day or even late shift when it’s still morning, because someone might get sick. This isn’t the worst though: there are four staff in the home for each shift and they switch about randomly. I call that chaos for chaos’ sake.

Today, I called out a staff on the website’s info about the home, which claims the staff know autism. “We do know autism,” she said. Well, if she did, she wouldn’t be constantly telling me: “You’ll see someone at some point,” when leaving my room for my “time by myself”.

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