By Shawn Smith M.Ed., CCC
Neurodiversity and time management
Neurodiversity and time management is a topic that keeps coming up in individual family sessions, so I wanted to make a quick video to really challenge people’s perceptions around time, and change your perspective on time management for neurodiverse people. The reason why I do this is because I identify as being neurodiverse. Although I can tell time digitally or analogue, I really don’t have a sense of time. So five minutes could very easily turn into 50. So I use a lot of different tools and assistive technology to help keep me focused and on task. But, for others who identify as being neurodiverse, it’s not as easy- and so we need to be more creative in how you try to reach people.
One of the ways that I do this is by challenging people’s perceptions around a conventional time, and the best way for me to do this is to use an example of an individual I want supported. The family would say that the individual had no sense of time, and I challenged them. The individual had a particular show that they enjoyed watching. It was on the same time every weekday. So, by structuring things in a sense of time that was conventional for the individual, which is contextually relevant- because he really enjoyed the show he wanted to watch every day- we structured things and framed them in a “before or after” context. So there were things that the individual needed to do, and these were a series of before and afters. And so one would be given, and then another, and then another, and these would all gradually lead up to the individual show that you they really wanted to watch. Similarly, when the show was done, we then started another list of “after.” And so things were reframed in this way, and it was extremely helpful for the individual to transition. Now, the other challenge that we have is that we say things orally, we give instructions that way. And, when we’re talking we have this… well we want it to be as important to the individual we’re talking to as it is to us. It’s not. And I had the saying that I use every now and again: “it’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just that I don’t care.”
The challenge is that we want the individual to listen
but in order to do that- in order to reach them- we need to use something that’s contextually relevant- that’s important to them in their world. And then think how can we incorporate that into our method of communication and understanding the individual. It’s not them that needs to change. Time won’t change. But we can. And we can support individuals using the assets- using the things that they already have that they thrive on to break into other aspects of their life to help them in different ways.
Be sure to visit Shawn’s site to learn more: www.ddmacs.ca