Feb 13, 2013 0 Share

Assembly Required


Photo of man assembling desk.
iStockphoto

I have a really nice desk in my office. It looks exquisite, and it's ready to hold my papers and serve as a great platform to work on. 

As soon as I finish building it, that is. 

I've got the first couple of steps done already, having screwed together some panels, hammered little “feet” onto others and glued some dowelettes into some holes. 

Now for the next 20-plus steps!  All the supplies are there. This is a perfectly structured process, great for us Aspies. The booklet, as far as I can tell, gives very good step-by-step instructions. 

Thing is, I just have trouble seeing myself finishing the desk. I try to anticipate every possible problem that might come up. Anticipating problems is great when you can plan for them. However, when your brain comes up with nebulous possibility after nebulous possibility and doesn't even fill in the blanks on one fantasy before moving on to the next, it's a different story. 

When you're like a computer whose owner has tried to simultaneously run 15 different programs (not counting a browser with 40 separate tabs) and then stream an HD video, no wonder your mind gives you the metaphorical Blue Screen of Death once in a while! 

As an Aspie in a country governed by certain disability laws, I can ask for reasonable accommodations, including upon occasion being allowed to consider issues one at a time. That is, I can ask other people to let me single-focus where feasible. 

But what happens when it's my own imagination? Our laws are pretty enlightened, but even so I suspect that if one half of my grey matter sued the other half for, say, violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, I'd probably get laughed out of court. 

In an episode of “The Honeymooners,” Ralph Kramden talked about how his father had given him a cornet that he never learned to play well, and he always wanted to “hit the high note.” That was his metaphor for his difficulties finishing what he started—in this case, actually getting a civil service job he applied for. 

Boy, do I empathize with that. People have lots of reasons for not always finishing what they start—and sometimes they're good reasons. What we often don’t realize is that many people need to build their skills in effective task completion. This can be especially true for Aspies. We sometimes need more time to process things—in part because our imaginations don't always give us the full versions of their scenarios the first time around. It's a bit like the Cheshire Cat ... one part comes in at a time. And heaven knows I've had enough problems with impulsive decision-making—impulsive not because I made certain decisions quickly but rather because I made them with very incomplete knowledge of their implications.

As for my desk, I'm just going to get back to building it and handle any issues as they come!