I am currently experiencing a major slide in executive functioning. Maybe Autistic Burnout. Feels like regression.

Whatever you call it, planning, prioritising, switching tasks, and finishing tasks are all exceptionally difficult. Distractibility is at an all time high.

I’m also failing to execute strategies I’ve used before to compensate for attention-focus differences. Lists, schedules, reminders are all not happening because I can’t get them started.

It would be simple to say that the problem is the constant and intense demands of full-time parenting of twins and a 5yo. But I’ve been trying to explore what is actually going on for my brain.

I have realised something important about my needs.

My mind needs FLOW to survive. Flow is the state we reach when we are completely immersed in something, sometimes called being ‘in the zone’.

For me, my most beautiful flow is achieved when I am at a computer, and my mind and fingers are connecting with the universe. I am completely present in the moment, and everything else around me is muted.

For many autistics, we get to this flow through engaging fully in our special interests. So for me, Computer + Topic or Project I am passionate about = FLOW.
Notebook with multi-coloured keyboard and hand touching mousepad

For a brain that moves quickly, takes everything in, and is frequently overloaded, flow gives me rest. It also energises me.

In the past year, for various reasons, I have had the least amount of time in flow that I’ve ever experienced.

It is not my children that are the problem, per se, but the lack of FLOW my brain needs to cope with the demands of my environment, and adult life. The consequence is a brain that is not focusing, resting, or rejuvenating.

When other people hit career or family burnout, they might take some time off and go for a resort holiday. Not me. Right now, I crave ever so badly a week on my own, mind and fingers connected to the universe through a screen.

While I can’t quite achieve that, I have started to carve out for myself an hour of flow each evening, and every Saturday holed up in my room with my macbook (thanks to my wife).

My hope is that intentionally creating space for FLOW will help my very neurodivergent brain cope with current life demands.

How do you get to a state of flow? Is this something important for your brain too?

❤ Briannon

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6 thoughts on “Flow and the neurodivergent brain

  1. I have observed my son with his need for flow. And when something is flowing, it may not be interrupted or diverted. It must be allowed to take its natural course.

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  2. Yes. I like the idea of Flow. Though for me I put on some Trance music and write on paper with a pen for a couple of hours and that gets me back on track most of the time. I like the idea of Flow.

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  3. Flow is a great concept. It resonates with me that some activities can both energize you, while simultaneously creating rest. It sounds like you have found a next-level kind of self-care.

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  4. I’m experiencing a similar thing, for me flow has been allowing me to recover from long term burnout & I achieve it thru my fiber arts. I’m having to wait for an order of fabric to arrive (it’ll take a couple of weeks) & I’m experiencing ⬆anxiety & agitation& inability to socialize for more than a couple hours. Knitting has been my flow resource for 3 years & all of a sudden it has switched to quilting & I wasn’t prepared. Flow is vital!

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