…and a cat (how I understand systems)

I did mention here, at the beginning of my blogging career, that I see new social situations like if they were jigsaw puzzles made of different elements. So for example new job would consist of the interior of the building where it takes place, the manager, colleagues, clients, equipment and so on. I think part of the problem that I have with not being able to cope with the ever changing team dynamic is due to the fact that I see all those elements in my head as stable. Have you ever come across jigsaw puzzles that allow the player to change position of elements or their shape? Me neither.

What I mean is, for example, if I work out that colleague A is friendly with colleague S then my instinctive understanding is that it will always stay like that. If, after a while, A and S have a row or possibly another colleague joins the company and becomes even more friendly with A, and S becomes left out, or maybe S leaves and A will be a bit lonely before he finds another ally – all those situations for me feel like if the world is falling apart. They don’t really affect me, do they? But the system, as I know it, gets damaged and needs rebuilding again.

If similar changes happen too often, and they unfortunately happen a lot in care settings, with constant influx of new staff, it will come to a point when I can’t cope with it any more, as silly as it feels. This is yet another example of a situation where my instinctive understanding is leading me astray. It’s not easy to live with the understanding that my own brain is doing that to me, believe me, but it was even worse when I didn’t even have that understanding at all.

However, sometimes my understanding of systems is what helps me to work out how I should behave and I can remember some situations I could give as examples from ages ago, before the idea I’m autistic even crossed my mind.

One of that situation was, when I was a live in carer for a lady with Alzheimer, who lived with her husband. Husband was doing all the cooking and shopping and, at 10am every day, he would serve us coffee with very nice biscuits from M&S. He told me I can help myself to those biscuits whenever I wanted, which I did sometimes.

However, one day I opened the cupboard and there were only two biscuits left. I immediately thought, I couldn’t take any because he may want some. I knew I couldn’t create a situation where he would open a cupboard and there wouldn’t be biscuits for him and his wife. It was their house so they had priority. I had to wait till the man does his next load of shopping.

I was a bit surprised then, when a next carer came (she came a week before I was about to leave for a break, to get a proper handover) and the above biscuit rule was not obvious for her at all. So one day the man opened the biscuit cupboard and, totally surprised said ‘Oh!’ And then he closed the cupboard and walked away.

In general it seems to me like systems with less people are much easier to understand than those with many of them. I wonder, though, how neurotypical people get what I cannot – it is said they get it ‘instinctively’, but what does that mean?

Can I get a grant to research them? Seriously, where is the equality? If neurotypical people get money from government to research us, there can’t be equality if we don’t get any money to research them.

And how did the cat get into this post? I need to come back to it tomorrow, the fire tired me out.

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