I have five chapsticks, one for each room where I spend focused time, and one in my bag. Minimalism tempered by practicality, aimed at improving how well I function day to day.
It’s part of the bargain I’m negotiating between my autism and my ADHD.
MY ADHD: More in case we lose them!
MY AUTISM: OK but only five. Seriously. And there are rules.
This post comes in response to @mightbeautistic on Twitter. They’ve got me thinking about the eternal battle between minimalism and maximalism (let’s pretend that’s a word) at our house.
Because stuff be like that.
My husband and I have been organizing our house room by room lately and it’s an exercise in accommodation for 2 ADHDers, one of whom is autistic.
We are trying to balance several principals… or what I’m gonna pompously call principles because I can’t think of something less pompous to call them.
1) things with like things
All lightbulbs together…
Candles and holders
2) keep things near where they’re used
Candles where we can find them in the dark
Cat supplies near the cat feeding station
Chapsticks, scissors, pens, hair ties, power cords, etc. at every desk
Floss and a back scratcher in every room*
*because I’m autistic and these are frequently among my last defenses against a meltdown
Backstock/less frequently used stuff lives nearby but out of sight.
3) point of performance stations (thanks @HowtoADHD!)
All supplies for frequent tasks where we perform the task
Pet Care Station: Cat brush, nail clippers, and treats in a box next to the couch in my office
Morning Station: Toaster, butter dish, Kind bars, and coffee supplies next to the espresso machine near the sink (this idea came directly from Jessica McCabe at @HowtoADHD)
Food Prep Station: Knives and cutting boards and paper towels
Repair Station: Table I can clear with good lighting and a nearby box of common tools
The Nerdery: Miniature-painting and kit-bashing supplies in a desk cabinet near where finished miniatures are displayed in glass-front cabinets (Because the desk closes to become an attractive wooden furniture-of-unknown-purpose, we can paint minis in the living room and the fiddly bits associated with the hobby are easily protected from cats that collect small objects (we have 2) and from the focus of guests.)
(I’m kind of weirdly proud of how 1 and 2 above come together in our way to deal with small appliances, which we divided into 3 groups in 3 locations: the three we use every day live on the kitchen counter, the four or so we use more than once a year live in the well-lit front row of the cabinet below, and the ones we almost never use but can’t part with cowering in the cavernous darkness of the back of that cabinet. I look forward to never having to move the juicer to get to the deep fryer or the ice cream maker ever again. Because priorities.)
4) corral things in vessels
Spatulas in a canister
Cat toys in a small bin
Each desk has a basket for little things
Bowl for keys and glasses by the door
Coffee supplies in a basket
Soap and sponges in a bowl
Shelves, drawers of stuff in boxes of like things
5) if you can’t see it, you’ll forget it exists
More reason to store things in small boxes without lids in drawers and on shelves
6) minimize “thing blindness” by reducing clutter via empty surfaces
Both of us ignore visual distraction in order to be able to function. This leads to drifts of objects on surfaces that we eventually stop seeing. We do better if we don’t ALLOW things to accumulate on surfaces, at least not without something to corral them.
Hence “task stations” on countertops and objects corralled in vessels.
7) “We don’t need two roasting pans!”
Sometimes the carrying cost of objects is more than the value of the object. Keep the best one and maybe a backup, donate or recycle extras. (This is as close as we get to the Kondo method at our house.)
Electric pianos, copies of Gray’s Anatomy (the book), realistic dildos, punch bowls. You get the picture.
8) if it’s out, it should be useful or beautiful
Hence my vast collection of plain or beautiful boxes for storing ugly things that need to be at hand.
9) And finally, to please the autistic (me) with a materials fetish… fuck plastic.
Privilege helps here, because wood, metal, glass, stone, and rattan are expensive. For us, with a small amount of disposable income available to solve persistent problems, me not melting down from overwhelm over too many unwanted objects with irritating textures/colors is worth expense. We do our best to save money via a lot of thrifting and we happily take advantage of the availability of awesome objects our friends want to get rid of when those objects fit my autistic specifications.
(Also, my autism is pleased that this list ends on 9, one of my top three favorite numbers.)
All of this comes together as part of our larger Grail quest of meltdown-reduction, healthy stimming encouragement, and executive function support.
And it can happen for us now thanks to appropriate medication support for #adhd. #Adderall
Of course, in addition to the executive function boost from meds, all of this is happening now because of our ADHD dependence on the urgency of deadlines. In our case it’s not because we’re about to have guests, but something larger: age and advancing disability. We are getting to the age when we don’t have excess energy or tolerance for pain, and the drains on energy and the pains we experience are more profound. At our age (both of us are 56), we just can’t afford to miss too many doses of a medication, break something tripping on a rug, spend preventable time in the hospital, or lose time and energy trying to locate something important.
We will fail, and that’s important to acknowledge. We will fail to maintain a system. We will still lose shit. We will suddenly notice drifts of visual chaos that we’ve allowed to accumulate. We will fail to balance all those competing principles above all the time.
And so we move forward knowing that failure will happen… or perhaps we can manage to reframe it as a perpetual work in progress, an agile build, an adaptive phased approach. I do that kind of shit all the time at work.
Originally tweeted by Agitated Spiders for Human Rights 🇺🇸🩸🦷 (@HorriblyJane) on October 3, 2022.