Structural Violence and how it impacts on those with disabilities.

Vintage Violence

Structural violence refers to the systematic ways in which social structures harm or otherwise disadvantage individuals

Structural violence is subtle and often seemingly invisible.

There is usually no one specific person or organization who can (or will) be held responsible for this form of violence as it can be insidious and all-encompassing within any given society.

 

 “Structural violence is one way of describing social arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm’s way… The arrangements are structural because they are embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world; they are violent because they cause injury to people … neither culture nor pure individual will is at fault; rather, historically given (and often economically driven) processes and forces
conspire to constrain individual agency. Structural violence is visited upon all those whose social status denies them access to the fruits of scientific, economic and social progress (Farmer).”

Jo Lindsay and Deborah Dempsey’s (2009:2) investigated the constraints of societal institutions upon those with disabilities within Australia. 

They found that institutions, such as the State/government and its political systems, policies and laws  shape and influence the ways in which ideologies surrounding the rights of disabled children and adults are being constructed and enacted through the constraints of social policy (Lindsay & Dempsey, 2009:2). 

In the case of any person with a disability, it is ultimately the State that has the power to identify and define their
condition as either disabled or non-disabled as a matter of policy.  In order to qualify for financial support a
physical or neurological condition experienced by a person must first be accepted and acknowledged by the State as being a “disabling condition”.

The State therefore has the power to determine both which societal resources a disabled person will be able to
access and the manner in which those resources will be delivered to (Llewellyn et al,
1996: 166).

 


By holding the power to define what will and will not be considered a disability, the State also holds the power to determine who will and will be able to access funding  and disability services
(Llewellyn al, 1996: 166; Habibis &
Walter, 2009).

For this reason theorists Nadia Heredia (2007:129) argues that the act of positioning the State and its social
structures as the arbiters and enforcers of such definitions, places  persons with disabilities at the mercy of a system which applies only external definitions and validations to personal experiences of disability.


In so doing, this enacts  a form of structural violence in which a disabled persons rights are replaced by the State’s rights to define that person’s ability to access services based on their level of disability (Heredia, 2007:129).

Thus creating the structural barriers that enable structural inequalities to occur.

 If a citizen cannot receive government services because he/she does not have a disability that is recognized by the State, or experiences a level of disability that is not considered severe enough to impair permanent function, then they will not be considered eligible to receive either financial assistance nor access to therapies.

As such, these constraints maybe considered structural and therefore the barriers they create may be considered  structural barriers.

These structural barriers can in turn be seen to create those structural inequalities which in many instances go on to become social inequalities.

From this it can be seen that structural inequalities can and do lead to social and personal harm. 

Although the level of  harm created is often only portrayed through individuals stories, such as the suffering caused by the limiting of funding and access to services for children with Autism, never the less, the ultimate cause of that harm is structural.

Equally the term “structural violence”  can be seen to act as an umbrella term that encapsulates the
various forms of social and institutional failings, which have real, if not always immediately appreciable consequences in peoples’ lives. 

Do You Love or Loath the Autism Label ? – Jeanett Purkis’ Journey

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Loathing and Loving the Autism Label

Description: Jeanette Purkis

Posted by Jeanette Purkis on Sunday, 15 September 2013 in Adults on the Spectrum

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I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 1994. I was among the first wave of adults diagnosed with Asperger’s in Australia, the condition being relatively unknown in the English-speaking world until the early-mid 1990s.  

This may seem strange to some, but at the time I got my diagnosis I really, really didn’t want it. It was not, as some others describe, a relief and a revelation and it did not cause a rush of understanding or self-acceptance.

The reasons for my not accepting the Asperger’s label were myriad, but mainly boiled down to the fact that I was obsessed with fitting in and being ‘cool.’ I was a prisoner at the time – I equated cool with the kinds of things that most people would be horrified by. I also thought that my parents would go to great lengths to let themselves off the hook for the way I had turned out. I felt rejected and neglected. I was an embarrassment who needed a diagnosis to explain away my inadequacies.

As time went on, my mum would tell me all about Asperger syndrome (at least,her somewhat incomplete understanding of it). I was encouraged to watch videos and read autobiographies of people on the autism spectrum. I rejected all of this of course and found myself getting rather irritated and feeling ambushed with my overzealous parents and their attempts at educating me about autism.

One thing was very telling about my rejection of my diagnosis. I didn’t really like myself or accept myself. I found myself feeling very strange when I watched any of the documentaries my parents kept subjecting me to. Deep down, I knew I actually did have Asperger’s but I could not consciously accept this. I found that being confronted with information on autism or even worse, meeting people who had it, was incredibly challenging.  To accept that I had autism would mean accepting myself, and I was not prepared to do that on any level.

 

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By my second year of university I had started to develop an appreciation of myself. At the end of second year I started searching through my things, looking for an important piece of paper: my Asperger’s diagnosis. As soon as I read it, I joined the local autism organisation and borrowed books and videos so that I could find out more about my diagnosis.  I accepted it without question, as by then I had gone some way to accepting myself.

Many people tell me that their diagnosis is a turning point. It is an opportunity to understand themselves and accept themselves. The moment of learning that they have Asperger’s is valuable and poignant. They know where they fit in the world and who they are. And they have the added bonus of belonging to the ‘club‘ – the many thousands of other people like them in the world.  It is a liberating moment, getting that little piece of paper which describes our unique take on the world and our particular perspective on life.

I had that liberation, but I had a delayed version of it. The moment that I accepted my Aspieness, some seven years after I was diagnosed, was a watershed moment in my life. Three years after accepting who I was, I wrote my autobiography, Finding a Different Kind of Normal, a book about having Asperger’s. I went from being unable to utter the words Asperger’s and autism to being published internationally as someone who identified with the label.

My diagnosis has been a journey of self-acceptance and developing self-worth. I hope that everyone who needs one continues to get the opportunity to access that same sense of acceptance and belonging through having a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.   

Tips for Aspies:

  • A label is not an actual thing. It is simply a way that doctors and clinicians describe a number of similar qualities.
  • The autism or Asperger’s label can change your life. But it can lead to issues. Make sure you remain independent and self-motivated even if you have a diagnosis. After all, it’s not an excuse to rely on others, it’s a means to be the best you you can be.
  • A lot of adults find out they have an autism spectrum disorder after their kids are diagnosed. This is great and can build amazing bonds within the family.
  • I view autism as a club. It includes a bunch of people with similar experiences and interests. Use your diagnosis to feel included in the club – seek out others with a similar label and chances are, you’ll make some great friends.
  • Some people are self-diagnosed. This can be challenging for people with the official diagnosis to deal with. I would encourage those of you who are self-diagnosed to go and get the official label, to put your mind at rest.
  • There is no such entity as ‘an autism’. It is simply a description of experiences and  characteristics. Also, different psychiatrists have different opinions. If you are unhappy with the treatment you receive from one doctor, look for another one who better suits your needs – they are your employee after all!
  • Use the label to your advantage – make it help you rather than hold you back.

 

Introvert or Extrovert? Are You A Party Goer, A Book Lover or Can You Be Both?

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When it comes to personality types in this life, we all have at least one aspect of ourselves that’s predominant.

For some it’s the party going  extrovert, while for others it’s the peace and quiet commonly associated with being an introvert.

As for me?

Well, I’m a good old-fashioned peace craving, book loving, coffee drinking, Techno, Acid House, dancing queen?

Confused yet?

Well, perhaps you should be.

Yes I love books, but I also love, love, love, getting lost in the duff duff throb of techno beats, mixed in with the hazy  undercurrent of hypnotic rhythms winding themselves up and down the tempo, on the dance floor.

Yet despite this, I am not now, nor have I ever been the type of person that anyone would call an extrovert. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

On the dance floor I may superficially appear to be an extrovert but once off the dance floor I immediately revert back to being an extremely mild-mannered, quiet, shy person.

This leads me to question whether or not anyone is ever truly one thing or the other?

So can you be an introverted extrovert?

Or an extroverted introvert for that matter?

What do you think?

Parody – The Problem With Fitting In For Women With Aspergers Syndrome

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“I’m an effigy,
A parody,
Of who I appear to be
Put your flaming torches under me “

Effigy by Natalie Merchant.

Like a lot of women with Asperger’s Syndrome, I struggle with the reality of having to present myself in ways that are acceptable, preferable or pleasing to others.

I understand that there is a need for me to look a certain way when I leave the house and that appearances are very important in this day and age to most people.

The thing is though, to me, appearances are just not that important.

I’m much more at ease with my inner being than the outer persona I’m forced to create, every day, just to blend in.

In all honesty, I like to wear clothes that make me feel comfortable, safe and secure.

Heck I’d be happy to wear PJ’s everywhere and I probably would if it weren’t for the fact that people would stop and stare at me  and never be able to take anything I’d have to say seriously ever again.

Yet even though I understand the social requirement of having to look “nice and normal” to others in order to be treated well, I still have problems understanding how it is that I’m supposed to conform to and create this so-called “nice/normal” look.

Oh sure, when I was younger I could plaster my face with makeup and style my hair with the best of them and somehow pull off the whole passing as ‘normal’ thing.

Mind you, I was a bit of an Emo/Punk back in those days so basically I could have worn nappy pins in my ears and no one would have dared look twice at me.

Apparently dressing differently is considered ‘normal’ when you’re younger but dressing differently when you’re older is just considered sad and a sign of maladaptive-ness.

So I find it somewhat ironic that these days, even though I’m trying so hard to fit in and look “normal’, that I still always seem to get it, if not entirely wrong, then at least wrong enough to make people , shall we say, just a tad bit wary.

Well, that’s how it feels anyway.

For example, if I have a meeting to go to or some other important occasion to attend I find that I can spend hours agonizing over the right choice of top to wear with the right trousers, only to discover once I’m out and about that most people would never deliberately put together the unique combination of colors or styles of clothing that I’ve so carefully chosen.

In short, I just never seem to get it right.

And because I know how much effort I go to just to try and fit in, when really I’d much rather be wearing my PJ’s and being accepted for who I am on the inside instead of having my worth rated by my outer appearance , I often feel like I’m being  forced to betray who I really am by giving in to this societal need for constructing an artificial outer shell, in order to get by.

So no matter how carefully I draw on my outer shell, the effigy that I present so ineptly to the outside world, the inner me still wishes to reside in a world in which the comfort of acceptance provides all the safety and security required for a human being to thrive.

“I’m an effigy,
A parody,
Of who I appear to be

Put your flaming torches under me”
Effigy by Natalie Merchant.

http://seventhvoice.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/high-functioning-autism-in-females-addressing-the-level-of-misdiagnosis-reported-by-parents-of-daughters-with-aspergers-syndrome-high-functioning-autism/

http://seventhvoice.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/can-you-tell-just-by-looking/

http://seventhvoice.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/beautiful-not-broken/

http://seventhvoice.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/differences-between-aspergers-and-autism-fruit-salads/

http://seventhvoice.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/love-isnt-in-your-eyes-baby-girl-its-in-your-heart/

http://seventhvoice.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/inertia-and-autism-why-people-with-autism-often-feel-stalled-in-their-tracks-the-difficulty-in-connecting-intention-with-action/

Inertia and Autism – Why people with Autism often feel stalled in their tracks…… The difficulty in connecting intention with action.

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Inertia: From Theory to Praxis

 

Anna Sullivan

 


 

This article was the handout for a presentation at Autreat 2002. It is incomplete, due to the author’s inertia, but if a more complete version occurs it will replace this one.

 


 

 

The Why of this Article

 

One night, my freshman year in college, camped in somebody’s backyard in LA to attend a political protest, I realized there was a pattern to the various things I hadn’t done — mail a letter to collect an already-won thousand-dollar scholarship, make an orthodontist appointment after years of having the braces stuck uselessly on my teeth, do most of my homework in high school, brush my teeth before I was 17 anytime other than the day I was going to the dentist — and to the things I had done – an award-winning high school science fair project, a fair bit of reading, endless hours on the internet – and that this pattern had little to do with motivation, caring, internal desires, or even how much I enjoyed doing the activities in question, and quite a bit to do with how the activities were structured. This realization triggered a welcome shift in my thinking, and I set about studying how exactly I seemed to work in this respect, how I could structure my life so as to make this less of a problem, and what similar phenomena seemed to happen in others.

 

This article and presentation are an attempt to communicate what I’ve pieced together, geared partly at inertial people trying to figure out how to structure their lives in a way that works.

 

Wanting and Doing: A common-sense model and its limitations.

 

In high school, I passed many hours thinking about how I wanted to be doing my homework, being frustrated with myself for not doing my homework, making elaborate plans to try to get myself to homework… and still not starting my homework. When I’ve tried to describe how this worked to others, I’ve generally been met with disbelief. “If you didn’t do it,” they say, “You must not really have wanted to.” This idea seems to function partly as a belief about how people work, but also partly as a definition — what a person wants to do is almost defined as what they end up doing. The belief-structure underlying this — our society’s common-sense explanation for what a person does and does not end up doing — seems to go something like this:

 

A person is a chooser. They have an array of options laid out in front of them, and they take whichever one they most want — whichever option they care most about doing. What a person does is exactly the same as what that person cares most about doing.

 

I don’t know how well this model works for most people, but I know this model does not work for me, or for a number of other ACs. For the purpose of this paper, I’ll call anyone for whom this model is far from working “inertial”, and I’ll call the phenomena which make it difficult or impossible for them to connect intention and action “inertia”. I’m going to try to explore what factors effect inertia in various people, and how one might structure one’s life to make inertia less of a problem.

 

Assumed Skill Sets

 

To begin with, it might be useful to look at the skill sets a person would need to have, in order for what they did to be whatever they cared most about doing. A person would need, among other things, to:

 

  • Notice they can make a choice.
  • Notice what options are possible in their situation.
  • Figure out how they feel about the various options.
  • Bring “online” any skills which will be needed to carry out those steps (for example, if their choice requires standing up, they’ll need to bring “online” whatever motor skills are involved in standing up. If their choice involves writing an essay, they’ll have to bring “online” all the pieces of knowledge and manners of thought involved in essay-writing).
  • Begin — i.e., actually start moving, in response to thought.

 

Since a lot of ACs are missing various neuro-typical cognitive modules, and since if any of these steps fails to work in a given situation the person will be inertial in that situation, it is perhaps not surprising that a lot of ACs are inertial. Also, since removing various skills from that list will all result in a disconnect between intention and action, but will have rather different internal dynamics, it is perhaps not surprising that the details of how the person is inertial, and of what changes make sense to address that, vary widely from person to person.

 

For example:

 

  • Some people have trouble making arbitrary choices. They’ll move along fine until, say, they have to choose one of several roughly-equivalent ways of doing something, and then they’ll just stall, unable to pick one and move on.
    • For some people this applies to, it can help to always do things in the same way, so that they don’t have to make the decision each time.
  • Some people will be unable to break down a task into steps (either unable to break the task down ever, or unable to do it while standing up, say, or while figuring out how to implement the previous steps). They might know what they want to do, and maybe start moving to try to do it, but the steps will get jumbled or stalled and they won’t be able to figure out how to do it.
    • Memorizing a routine for doing something, and practicing it, can help. Also, it can help to have a written-out chart of the steps to do something. This difficulty is sometimes, I think, referred to as “apraxia”.
  • I tend not to notice my own emotions/desires without a careful conscious process of checking to see how I’m feeling (much like I often won’t notice visual stimuli unless I specifically “ask my eyes” what’s in front of me). I’ll therefore find myself doing all sorts of things I might not want to do (ordering food I intellectually believe I like, but which I actually don’t want to eat, for example), because I never noticed what I wanted in the first place. Also, even when I do notice, my perceptions of my own preferences often aren’t very “loud”, which may make it harder for me to manage to act on those preferences.
    • I’ve been making a habit of checking what I want to do, both in general and in certain situations (like ordering at restaurants), which has been great.
  • Some people are caught almost constantly in “thick daydreams” during certain periods of their life, and therefore have trouble noticing the outside stimuli which might otherwise prompt action, and are less likely to respond to those stimuli when they do notice. Those sorts of daydreams often have something like an emotional addictiveness or tendency-to-stay-put to them, so that trying to move out of them (as is, to some extent, required if one is to get up and do anything) can sound like jumping into a cold swimming pool.
    • I’ve heard more than one person say that breaking out of the “habit” of these sorts of daydreams was for them difficult but possible, and worthwhile. I would guess that simply deciding one wished to stop, and making a point of trying to go out and engage with things, would be a reasonable start.
  • Some people find it difficult or impossible to summon certain ways of thinking on demand. For example, some people have a lot of trouble getting into an “essay-writing mode” – they’ll get out the assignment, open up the word processor… and then sit there blank, unable to figure out how to begin. For another example, some people get easily caught in a given emotional state – frustration, say – and are unable to get out of it on their own.
    • The idea here is to get environmental stimuli, or processes you can go through, which will help summon the desired state. For essay-writing, it can help to have an example essay (the essay can be used as a model, but also the process of reading the essay can get one’s thoughts going in an essay-like way). It can also help to discuss the ideas you’re trying to write about with somebody, so that your mind will start to engage with the ideas, or to do a brainstorm or something around the essay-topic. For managing to get up, it can help me to make small motions first (so when I think about getting up and working on something, say, I’ll start by wiggling my hands and feet). For regulating their emotions, it helps some people to go through relaxation exercises, or to talk to someone about something else. Another trick for evoking certain ways of thinking is to have certain places which are devoted to certain activities. So I might do nothing other than study at my desk, and then if I’m at my desk there’s a lot of studying-associations there helping me to focus (and if I wanted to take a break and daydream or something, I’d get up and sit somewhere else while I did that, in order not to weaken the associations.)
  • I have trouble moving from “low-energy” states to “high-energy” states (so that it isn’t hard to move from cleaning my apartment to sitting down reading, if that is what I want to do, but moving from sitting down reading to cleaning my apartment is difficult. Also, if I’m trying to do something really-high-energy (like something important I’ve meant to do for months), I’ll often find myself doing a lot of moderately-high-energy tasks (cleaning my room, etc) instead.
    • When I want to do something high-energy, I do better when I start, not by trying the task itself (which is often hard even to think about), but by raising my energy level (wiggling my hands and feet, exercising, accomplishing some easily-completed task like putting my dirty clothes in the clothes hamper, etc.). Also, I would like to start each day by exercising, since I find that that makes me “higher energy” for the rest of the day, and to start my workday by doing something of real substance (rather than checking email or something) since that makes me “higher energy” for the rest of the workday.
  • I know someone who maybe could force himself to do certain things, but who finds that doing so disrupts his natural ability to think and feel. And so the person moves from impulse to impulse with little conscious intervention, and retains an impressive ability to think (and a less impressive (lack of) ability to get forms in on time, pass courses, etc.).
    • It might make sense for the person to structure his life so as to require as few on-purpose activities as possible (using online bill-paying services, choosing courses which require little homework, etc.) and to arrange for a lot of stimuli in his environment to prompt impulses to work on stuff he’ll long-term consider desirable (relevant books, people to converse with about topics he’d like to end up thinking about, etc.).
  • Lucy Blackman writes, in her excellent autobiography Lucy’s Story: Autism and Other Adventures, that she has trouble getting her thoughts into the stream which effects what she actually does, unless she’s had time to type it out before hand.

 

 

Some General Considerations

 

Because there is so much variation, the process of figuring out how one’s own inertia works, and how to organize one’s life in order to do more of what one wants to do, will necessarily be individual. Nevertheless, there are some general thoughts which may be of use:

 

There’s a neurological difference between on-purpose and automatic movement. In the Oliver Sacks movie Awakenings, Sacks and a doctor are looking at a woman with an unusual form of paralysis (who would not, for example, have been able to move to pick up a ball.) Someone throws a ball to her, and she reaches out and catches it. Oliver Sacks asks the doctor how she did that, and he says roughly “I guess she borrowed some will from the ball.”

 

In general, voluntary motor movement and automatic motor movement are controlled by different centers of the brain, and it is possible to be unable to do something on purpose but able to do something as part of a routine (for a common example, people often have trouble remembering someone’s name on purpose, but remember it just fine when it comes up naturally as part of a thought. Also, people will sometimes be able to play music or sports well when they don’t think about it, but will have trouble managing to do it right when they become conscious of what they’re doing.) In inertial people this difference can be larger than usual; often it can help to rely on automatic movements (through schedules, doing things in response to prompts, etc.) in places where other people would use voluntary movements.

 

Just because someone can do something sometimes doesn’t mean they can do that all the time, and just because things vary in ways which are hard to predict doesn’t mean the things are being done on purpose. Often people will be able to do things in some situations or some frames of mind, but not in others.

 

There are different senses in which a person can “know” things, in the sense that I might know intellectually how to do a task, but unless I’ve actually physically done it several times, I’ll find it hard to begin. Similarly, people might intellectually know the next step in a task but have a much easier time starting it if someone tells them, or might intellectually know what they’re trying to do but have a much easier time doing it if they write it down and carry it with them.

 

Facilitation can be great. A facilitator of a group is someone who tries to listen to what the group is trying to discuss or express, and to help that conversation emerge without imposing the facilitator’s own opinions on the process. It can sometimes be very helpful to have someone do that for their own individual attempts to do things – to have someone listen carefully and try to help whatever it is the person is trying to do come out, without imposing themself on the process. I think facilitated communication, when done well, is like this. Jim and I have been “study buddies” for the last few months, and borrowed will from one another and sometimes facilitated one another; this has been fruitful.

 

Inertia and “Taking Responsibility”: People sometimes hesitate to think of their own actions as caused by inertia, even when they fit the profile, because they are afraid that means “not taking responsibility”. From one angle, I think they are mistaken: an important part of taking responsibility for yourself is noticing how you work, so that you can avoid promising to do things you won’t be able to do, can set up situations to make yourself more likely to get certain things done, etc.

 

At the same time, it seems like one component of how most people “take responsibility” is that they believe they can control their own behavior. I think the way to blend this with the above paragraph is to notice what actions one can control, to continue to regard all one’s actions as one’s own responsibility, and to use the understanding provided by the concept “inertia” to figure out how to act well.

 

Figuring it out for Yourself

 

If you’re inertial, and you’re trying to figure out some ways of structuring things to make inertia less of a problem, here’s an outline of a possible way to proceed.

 

  1. Think about the tasks/activities you do easily, and those you find difficult or impossible (it might help to write a list out). Are there patterns? For example:
    • Are you better at doing things in one setting (home, work, school, a friend’s house, etc.) than in another? If so, what is different about that setting?
    • Are you better at tasks which need to happen at a particular time than at tasks which need to happen just whenever?
    • Are you more likely to do things when you’ve already said out loud or in writing that you’d like to do them (or that you plan to do them, or something)?
    • What effect does pressure have on your likelihood of completing a task?
    • What effect do various sorts of reminders from friends and others have on your likelihood of completing a task?
    • Are you more likely to do tasks you’ve already practiced several times?
    • Are there certain things you get stuck doing (playing a particular computer game, etc.) which make it harder for you to move on to what you want to do?
    • Do you have an easier time with certain tasks when you’re alone, or when you’re with people?
    • Are there particular people you have an easier time doing stuff around? Are there particular people it is difficult or impossible to do stuff around?
    • Is it easier when the people are busy doing stuff of their own, or when they’re in certain frames of mind?
    • Is it easier to get stuff done when your day has gone certain ways (say, when you’ve exercised, or when you’ve eaten breakfast, or have gotten enough sleep, or aren’t stressed, or already accomplished something that day, or scheduled enough break time, or…)?
    • Does it help if your environment is clutter-free?
    • Does it help if there is a cue for what you’re trying to do (like the textbook, if you’re trying to study, or the stamps and envelope if you’re trying to send mail)?
  2. Brainstorm some ideas for making some of the tasks/activities you care most about easier for you to do, possibly with help from a friend. Try them out for a week or so and see if they help. Then, brainstorm again.

 

 

Further Reading

 

Kalen Molton has a good, practically-oriented article on inertia posted on alt.support.autism. To find it, go to Google, and do a “Google Groups” search on “kalen autism inertia”.

 

Movement Differences and Diversity in Autism/Mental Retardation by Anne M. Donnellan and Martha R. Leary, gives a nice overview of a whole bunch of ways movement can be different in ACs, gives some beginnings of a new framework to conceptualize some of this in, and in particular emphasizes skills as being situational things which a person is able to call forth in a certain situation, in response to certain stimuli rather than absolutely. I found this book very helpful. The articles Movement Difference: A Closer Look at the Possibilities and Movement Differences Among Some People with Autism use this book as a reference.

 

Catatonia in autistic spectrum disorders“, by Lorna Wing and Amitta Shah (published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (2000) 176:357-362; available at http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/full/176/4/357, is an interesting (although clinical-sounding) research article about catatonic autistic people (which kind of seems like an extreme form of inertia). One interesting point from the article is that it says that in a fair number of autistic people, catatonic symptoms appear or get much worse sometime in adolescence.

 

Lucy’s Story: Autism and Other Adventures, by Lucy Blackman, is not about inertia per se. However, since she is “low-functioning autistic” and has a lot of trouble linking intention to action, there’s a fair bit of good material on inertia in her book.

 

Punished by Rewards, by Alfie Kohn, is all about how extrinsic reinforcement (rewards – things like praise, candy, stickers, etc.) can destroy intrinsic motivaion. If that seems to be part of your inertia, it might be worth looking at (although it just talks about how that happens, not about what to do about it.)

 

Some relevant keywords (if you’re looking for inertia-related stuff on the internet):

 

  • executive function
  • executive dysfunction
  • inertia
  • “paralysis of will”
  • apraxia, dyspraxia
  • catatonia
  • “movement” in the same search as “autism” or something similar
  • facilitated communication (since this seems to work, on something of a “borrowed will” basis, and since the details have a fair bit to do with how inertia works and how one might manage to act anyway. I’d also recommend looking at anything written by a “low-functioning autistic” person, since a lot of the time the “low-functioning” seems to mean “very inertial”.)