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Asperger’s and Difficulty in School: Connecting more dots

I can’t read two books at a time, and apparently can’t take two classes at a time either.

My mind started to connect the dots…

(It does that sometimes)

I was originally registered for two classes this semester and began to panic. I need to make up the semester I took off when I had the baby. But-every time I register for two classes I panic and wind up dropping one of them. That is where the dots started to connect. I am panicking because I cannot focus on texts, discussions, papers, and thinking about two classes and their subjects at the same time. I MUST be completely engaged in my class in order to successful (we will take about success in another post-very soon). I time to think about the subject matter; it is on my mind first thing in the morning. I contemplate the final papers over the whole semester constantly turning the assignments over in my mind. I simply cannot do that with more than one subject at a time for much of the same reason I cannot read two books at once.

Is it Executive Function issues, or something else?

I do think this inability to focus on two things at once is an issue of Executive Functioning, but there may be more to it than that. It is an issue of hyper-focusing and connecting. A connection with characters, an immersion in stories, and an inability to shift from that activity to another can really keep you engaged in a book but hinders your ability to do anything else in the meantime.

More dots…difficulties in school-a matter of shifting?

The first time I attended college I had to take more than one class at a time. It was a traditional college setting (two semesters per year, and about 4-5 classes each semester); I did not last long. This time around I have stuck with it longer than I ever have before and I think it is partially due to the fact that I can take one class (albeit an intensive 8 weeks long class) at a time.

This online structure is composed of 6 semesters per year with the ability to take one or two classes per semester. Focusing or pushing through one class, thinking about one subject, and finding an end to it in just a short 8 weeks has allowed me to take classes continually for a little over two years; a record for me! Of course, with some online schools, there is a cost. This can be expensive, so it’s important that people do all they can to save some money. For anyone having to attend an online college, it might be worth reading this remote student learning guide to see some technology deals and discounts that could help online students out. Hopefully, that will make it easier for some people to afford these online colleges.

Aspie Teen cannot shift activities either.

If the Teen gets absorbed by a subject, he cannot shift gears, put it down, and start a new topic. I’ve watch him working on his schoolwork (online virtual high school) and noticed that he will complete the required number of hours/classes for a day (six hours). But-they will usually be six hours of science, or 4 hours of English and 2 hours of physical education; sometimes 5 hours of history. He cannot do one hour in each subject and call it a day. If he tries it take him way too long to complete the coursework. The transition time between subjects is too long and he has difficulty getting his mind to switch gears. Often when I insist he switch, he will come to me two hours later talking about a subject from the previous topic that was floating around his mind the whole time.

Consequently, those two hours usually produced no work in the new subject. Fortunately, he can work on his subjects his own way with his online school so now I just let him be. If he wants to do six hours of science, at least that is six hours he is actually working on something-and learning the material. When I force a switch, he doesn’t absorb the information, which really is just a waste of time.

A new problem…

Now that I’ve had a few more “ah ha,” moments, which happen on a pretty regular basis these days, I find myself with a new dilemma. I finished The Great Gatsby, because of course I couldn’t put it down until it was complete.

The book was assigned reading for week’s one and two of this semester’s class, but I finished it in day one of the class. The second novel, Ceremony, is assigned for the rest of the semester including a literacy analysis as a final paper. I need to get to that book for two reasons. First, I need to start thinking about the analysis-my mind needs a lot of time to think, and I need a book to read at night or I cannot finish my day and get any sleep! (NEED for routine)

So what is the problem? I have to finish all my coursework for the first two weeks before I start the new book because I have discussions, papers, and analysis due over the next two weeks for book one! There is no way I can analyze and discuss book one while reading book two! Do you see the problem?? It is really a stupid problem to have, but a problem for me none the less.

So what is the solution?

Beats me-drop everything else and complete the two weeks work today so I can read novel two tonight? Or else I will stay up and play Candy Crush til the wee hours of the morning. (That is a time-sucking evil game LOL).

A friend of mine used www.collegepaperworld.com when she needed a college paper writing for a tight deadline so I did consider the possibility of using their service.

Doing the school work now would be a good idea if I wasn’t in writes blog posts mode as you can see from the many posts yesterday and today (another issue of shifting). I tend to not write anything for weeks and then all of a sudden have a burst of things to say and events to tell you all about. Then of course as I am writing, I am thinking of more things to tell you!

And-I am a bit obsessed with giving my ugly kitchen a new look, thank you very much HGTV! I need to go and buy more paint.

AND-Crap!! I almost forgot the little man is still asleep and I need to wake him up for school!!! GOT TO GO!

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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, on the autism spectrum.


  1. Pingback: Book Review: Sparrow Migrations NOT Just the Story of One Autistic Boy - Jeannie Davide-Rivera

  2. You have a new baby! There is a separate condition from Asperger’s at work here. I call it Baby Brain, aka oatmeal brain. All the hormone craziness combined with chronic sleep deprivation left me in a constant brain fog for a good year after I gave birth. I was doing well when I could keep everyone fed and washed. The pursuit of a college education was way outside my range of abilities. Give yourself major credit for all you are doing(taking care of 4 kids alone is the equivalent of three full time jobs), and slow down before you have a break down.

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