Rules are the regulations that people put on themselves or others to define us as a civilised society and stopping us from being anarchic, a free for all non-society. I was a very regulated person as a little boy, and I used to put those rules into force. Hard.

My parents never really needed to enforce cast-iron rules over me, as I would always do it myself. My life up until the age of 16 was heavily structured, and heavily regulated by me. Some of the rules I could remember were bedtimes. When I was little, bedtime was 7:00pm. I was the sort of kid who would put myself to bed. Most parents reading this would probably be thankful for that. And this continued until I was about 16, when my Bedtime went up as late as 10pm. It didn't matter what time though, I always used to go to bed at a set time.

And this structure went beyond bedtime. When I ate, what I ate and drank, when I woke up, things I'd do at certain times. My lifestyle was structured around time, and a lot of my current problems are the result of this. Always trying to meet a schedule, and panicking about meeting the schedule. This is because I timed when I left my house to go school. Heck, I still do this.

I remember my old High School schedule. I would wake up at 6:35am, get dressed, have Breakfast for 7:00am on the dot. I would then leave home at 7:45am, get the 8:06am train, and get to school for 8:25am. And that was my weekly morning schedule. While I don't follow that schedule anymore, I do still try to regiment my daily life. This can be a blessing and a curse. Certainly, there are benefits to living this lifestyle, but there are negatives too. I do panic a lot, I have anxiety problems, and if I don't meet the schedule, that does trigger my anxiety problems. Or worsens them.

Living life in a structured manner certainly can be good, but if I were to give any Autistic readers advice, I'd say try to loosen your structure. Life isn't as regimented as we wish it would be, and living a structured life; while being good, is no good when you're working and living with people who may not be as regimented as yourself. Start simple, if you're out of the house on a walk and you're meant to be doing a certain daily ritual, just do it later. You're still following a structure, but you're not a slave to it. You might even move your weekly business around. If you have time to do something now, you might as well do it then, and use the spare time for something you enjoy.

Rules are a good thing to have, but being autistic can make you a slave to your own structure. It isn't a bad thing, if anything it might be a good idea for everyone to follow a structure, but you can't live your life in such a regimented manner. Loosen up a little, it will do you the world of good.

Published by Ben Attwood