• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”

Interruptions Make Me Angry

I can completely understand why my 8-year-old gets so angry at his teacher when she interrupts what he is doing, and wants him to change gears.

He loves reading and is having difficulty changing activities in school. All he wants to do is read his book, and he actual refuses to stop in the middle of a chapter. He will tell her, “wait, I have to finish this chapter”, which gets her nuts.

When she insists on his stopping immediately, he gets angry, and sometimes will yell at her and slam his book down.

“I don’t understand, you tell me to read, but then you won’t let me finish!”

The next hour is a complete waste because he shuts down. He cannot calm his anger enough to hear anything that is said to him. The anger of being interrupted, of not being able to complete something he is intensely focusing on interferes with his ability to listen and accomplish other tasks.

The same thing happens to me. An interruption brings immediate feelings of anger, sometimes even rage. Its my first knee-jerk emotional reaction. I find it impossible to transition. When I am focused on writing and then get interrupted I am angry.  I cannot simply address the interruption and return to what I was doing.

The next few hours is a waste; I can’t concentrate or get back to the place I was at.  I suppose if you knew that would be the result of an interruption, interruptions would anger you too.

I’m noticing that I am now avoiding starting certain tasks because I am beginning to fear the interruptions that I know will occur. I’m fearing those angry feelings, and the frustration it will bring for hours afterwards. This is worrisome to me for two reasons.

First, I am fearing to begin projects, blog posts, chapters that need finishing etc. causing me to put them off, and then I am annoyed with myself because I have wasted time.  I could have spent that time accomplishing something but I never got started.

I am also worried that a similar phenomenon is going to happen to my little guy.  He is on a reading kick.  He loves to read. He has been getting so angry when he is unable to finish what he is reading that I worry he will do as I am and avoid starting.  Or, worse, that he will lose the love he has for reading, which is so important.  After all, if he can read well, and loves to read, then he can learn anything he wants to learn.

We have not yet found any strategies to combat these interruption issues. I would like to work in a quiet solitary place to avoid the possibility of interruptions altogether.  I would like my little man to be allowed to finish his chapters without interruptions, but acknowledge this is not always possible in a school/classroom setting.

Anyone else have similar issues?  What were your solutions? We will be working on coming up with different ideas to address this problem, but until then would love to hear your ideas and suggestions!

 

 

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Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert , contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, three of which are on the autism spectrum.
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