Getting Stuck: Rituals, Routine, Obsessions, and Aspergers

Rituals, routine, and obsessions are a featured characteristic of those who struggle with Aspergers. This is unfortunately one of my weaknesses known as getting stuck. It is also an occasional strength when writing or talking about something I’m passionate about. In order to cope with anxiety and stress that comes from the crazy nutty world we live in, people like me can get stuck on passionate or trending subjects and repeat certain behaviours for comfort (I play with my hair, and when telling my wife it’s a stim, she says “What?!”). While some people who struggle on the spectrum may spend their routine intensely studying one passion, others may be somewhat neurotic about keeping their house or apartment tidy, lining up items in a particular order (I do this at work all the time), or even trying to control their environment so their routine isn’t disrupted or their fear of chaos and anarchy doesn’t occur. Does this remind you of anyone?

Some psychological testing states that the memory of a kid struggling with Aspergers may not be better than neurotypical individuals. Yet the behemoth of facts and maxims he/she memorized probably shows how much time and effort went into gaining knowledge on one or two subjects they’re passionate about compared to lack of knowledge of everything else.

Usually subjects that involve connection or that have inherent networks, such as maps, weather patterns, or airline schedules are particular matters that lead to an Asperger type of obsession. Although it is commonly thought that obsessions can be a strength which can be exploited in an educational environment, these obsessions can hamper how they cope with daily life. Individuals on the spectrum are more interested in how things work or how systems of code such as those in software are developed versus psychology (or how people work).

Here are some things I get stuck on and how I either use a metaphorical loop counter, or switch my focus all together.

  • Modular Synthesis

    Creating music with different synths is actually a lot of fun. When coming up with different sounds based on how things like waveform patterns are connected with effects such as delay, reverb and compression, I could write a book about this in this post, but check on the DAW Sunvox to understand what I’m talking about.
  • TV and Movies

    I love fandom, different television shows, and movies. Sometimes my wife gets annoyed when I constantly talk and talk about how all the MCU movies are connected. Luckily this is short lived when we both talk about music or movies we’re both into. Some of our Flash and Harry Potter discussions can get very deep in the rabbit hole, and she understands it’s a process to give closure to conversations I’m passionate about.
  • Injustice in the News (especially with autism)

    We all want to see a better world. When something really grinds my gears, my brain constantly sees the problem in my mind like a broken record that’s been scratched. Sometimes the only way to undo this is to ride it out and show me something else that is more important. And because of how emotionally intense some fake news sites are when I used to fall for them before 2015, I would be raving and ranting about them for at least a week. There was one point where I was confronted about constantly being stuck on a Trump issue. I can understand how it’s sensitive, but it’s a problem for me too especially knowing his crazy views on vaccines and autism.
  • BreakupsWe all know how painful break-ups can be. Looking back on when I was single, I found that whenever I’ve been rejected by a girl or gone through a breakup, it would take at least 6 months to literally get through the first four stages of grief. I would spend hours locked away in my room listening to the radio with tears in my eyes or constantly yelling at a TV screen while playing a video game. At one point in my teens, it actually took me a year and a half to get through the whole process of grieving one relationship failure. Luckily at that time, there was no Facebook or I would have posted about the pain every hour I was online.
  • Artistic IdeasWhen I have an idea, I just have to work on getting that particular artistic project finish. One of the reasons I love composing chiptune music is because I can easily focus on the composition as opposed to the simple sounds which take seconds to program. Usually it takes just under two hours to create a song. With longer projects where I do need breaks, I can’t seem to get another task done until the song is completely composed. My struggle with Aspergers probably is an indication as to why my music could be better than it actually is. However, if you do enjoy my music, gladly continue to support me.
  • Theological Disagreements (thankfully not so much now)I used to be a very closed-minded Christian until late 2015. I would constantly try to argue my point and somehow end up repeating the same exact statement I hold fast to over and over again rather than listen to the other side of a debate. In one conversation I had with a woman regarding arguing my point when it comes to abortion, I kept on saying verbatim. “I don’t care what the hell you’re saying. This is black and white. Abortion is murder.” I was stuck in my ways and I needed to learn that part of a healthy debate involves understanding where the other person I’m arguing with is coming from. Eventually she indicated that she’s uncomfortable judging a woman because of her choices but she understands where I’m coming from. It was actually a valid point. I can be against abortion and still accept a woman regardless of her past.

As a bonus, here are some of the repetitive things I’ve always enjoyed and even studied about constantly not just to figure out how they work, but just to take in and relax myself.

  • Hip-hop beats/electronic music/trance music/deep house
  • Records (yes, the spinning fascinates me)
  • Where Bible verses constantly elude to the same them or almost say exactly the same thing verbatim
  • Market Research Surveys
  • App Development
  • Platform Games
  • Experience Growth Patterns in JRPGs