Ok, as an autistic person, this is easily one of my biggest disabilities. It has caused me countless problems and misunderstandings. I’ve nearly lost jobs over this, and have many broken relationships becuase of this. And I’m confident I’m very annoying to supervise becuase if this.
Demand avoidance. Because of the way my brain works, I am unable to accomplish simple tasks simply because of the demand to do those tasks… they could be tasks I had already planned to do, but once someone demands me to do them, something is triggered in my brain and I’m no longer able to do them.
This isn’t about having a tantrum. Or being stubborn. It’s a disability related to the brain.
If someone tells me I HAVE to do something a certain way, I guarantee you, I won’t be doing it that way. Or at least, I will resist it at first.
I am able to do most things in life, if they are optional, and so I tend to view most things in life as optional. As soon as someone insists they become mandatory—“You have to do this!” Or “this is the only way!”—then this disability kicks in and I become unable to do it.
I experience it differently than this YouTuber, but it’s a good intro (see below).
The best advice, for those who love someone on the spectrum: keep the conversation open. Don’t insist or demand. Make suggestions and give them space to decide for themselves.
I find I can do things if I’m included as a legitimate and respected contributor. I can even do things if there is consensus, if I’m treated as a part of the decision-making. For me, demand avoidance kicks in the most when I’m dictated what to do without input or conversation.
There’s an extra layer to this. When people who have no right telling me what to do, tell me what to do… instead of simply dismissing it as irrelevant or inappropriate, I actually still experience demand avoidance. And I can appear obstinate to someone who isn’t an authority over me, which is confusing to everyone.
If you have ever worked with me, this is why I almost never make demands of people, and mostly frame my requests as suggestions or invite input. “I was thinking we should do this. But what do you think?” I do to others what I want done—at least I’m consistent. 🙂
Of course, this doesn’t always work. In fact, I might frame something as a question that is actually a demand. This also causes problems.
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