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An Ocean Of Possibility

Hopefully last week helped you realise just how bad it can get when you force autistic people to conform to the majority's norms. But where is Jacob now? Where will he go?

You will find out one day...

Although the story is fictional, the characters portrayed really do exist and there are far more severe conclusions to similar stories including the ending of my story reversed.

For those who read last week's story 'Ripples,' you will understand the above reference. However, today's column is about something that may affect Jacob's life as we know it but absolutely affects autistic people's lives, such as mine, every single day.

It's called Executive Functioning.

According to an online source, "Executive functioning is the process of the mind gathering together and making sense of all the information we receive from our instruments or senses. Helping us to create meaning from what we see, hear, touch, taste and experience, executive functioning also allows us to focus our attention, think about new information, and make connections to what we already know."

In a briefer explanation, executive functioning can be about things like remembering, organising and planning.

So where will Jacob or anyone else go?

If Jacob or any other autistic person has difficulties with executive functioning then this question may remain unanswered.

It may seem trivial to some people but constantly being easily distracted and missing important deadlines, generally transitioning between tasks and struggling to plan projects efficiently despite having rampant creativity can be very frustrating. Trust me, I know. These are all problems I experience.

This is why my role as weekly columnist for the Lincolnshire Free Press is so important to me. Beyond myself, we need to display compassion for autistic people that have these kinds of problems and try not to 'flog a dead horse' which is to reprimand them for something that just happens because we are far from lazy or unmotivated.

In typing that, we are able to improve our executive functioning by constructing routines with visual cues, phone reminders, to-do lists and apps like Brain In Hand (recommended), verbal encouragement and more.

Back to my personal experience to give you some authentic insight, I am sometimes too impulsive and want to go forward with the first idea that comes to my mind.

I do not plan efficiently and, as evidenced with a project called The TalkSpace Podcast that you may have heard of, many of my ideas never come to fruition. But that does not mean that you must deem them failures.

Therefore, The TalkSpace Podcast which was about having conversations around autism and disability in a radio-esque format, is in the background of my mind's film but in the future, it could be in the foreground.

I have forgotten birthdays and appointments, failed to organise birthday celebrations, lost keys and rambled to point of no return to my original reason for talking...let's not lose the focus here!

Over many years, I have become very aware of my identity including parts of myself and it takes setbacks to realise how far you can go once you LEARN from them.

I think that a positive way forward in union with autistic people and others that struggle with executive functioning is that we have to teach resiliency to the kids and adults that forget 'simple' things like a homework book or need to break down uni assignments into manageable chunks of information.

We have to teach them the consequences of their actions, the ripples of their waves if you will, but in ways that are productive in progressing WITH the individual.

It could be saying "Okay, you forgot your assignment today, let me write a note for you so you can remember tomorrow" or

"Maybe a room to-do list will help you know where to start?"

You may travel a different path for varying lengths of time, maybe even forever, but we have to be patient and take pleasure in the journey as opposed to a preferred destination.

And that is not just about executive functioning or any other skill but this is a life lesson, in my opinion.

We may miss train times or doctor's appointments, get lost on a woodland trip, be messy when it comes to our bedrooms but we are complete human beings and we as a society must demonstrate and model compassion, constructive feedback, patience, resiliency and persistence and have to help each other to help ourselves sustain healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.

Where will you go?

It is my wish that, with perspective and tangible application of the content of this column, you can take more confident steps to realising your path to fulfilment.

As always from now on, contact me on Facebook and Twitter @ Callum Brazzo, call or text me on 07528 810 172 or go to callumbrazzo.com to connect with me.

Until Next Tuesday!

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