Aspies have no concept of time




I'm generalising here, as I know I have no concept of time and neither does my aspie son, RT Teen. This could be a genetic glitch, sent to make our lives interesting, or it could be true of many other aspies too.

Now, let me get this straight: I don't mean just losing track of time, like when you're immersed in a pet obsession. That's different and everyone can do it. What I mean is, losing track of the years and having very little idea of when something happened, however well you may remember the event itself.

I regularly forget how long ago things were, no matter how many clues there might be. It doesn't matter what else was going on, I will, without fail, mis-remember the timescale.

Usually, I shorten it down and guess on a couple of years. This 'couple of years' covers anything from eighteen months (if we're very lucky) up to seven years, as my personal best. Most often, a couple translates to four or more years. If I remember something being last year, then you can predict that was a couple of years ago.

Anything over a few years ago and I really struggle. I can blend year upon year and remember an event being seven years ago when it might have been twelve, or bring it up to only three years before. It's very erratic.

When I'm working out these time-slips, I am actually trying to be accurate. It feels right when I guess the amount. I do think I'm close - though after years of getting it wrong, I'm not full of confidence.

I'm no longer surprised when I'm wrong again but I am sometimes taken aback by the scale of my wrongness. I will suddenly feel out of joint, as if I've been kicked off the tracks and life is skidding past me, with no way to slow it down.

People are exasperated sometimes when I get mixed up, but the most surprising reaction is how they feel about my shorter-term confusions. I have no idea why, but when I blunder over the timescale of a more recent event, say a few months ago, then the people around me are often annoyed

They seem to feel I should be more exact when it was a closer event, that my notoriously shaky grasp of time is somehow only appropriate to years and not months. I guess this is because it's more understandable to them to be confused about the years, as lots of people feel time speeds by as they get older.

What they seem to find maddening is my inability to even say which month something happened. It's as if I'm being personally difficult to them, as well as doing it on purpose. Like so many other facets of aspie life, they feel if I only concentrated or tried harder, then I could do it.

Readers, I have trouble remembering if something happened last week or three weeks ago - it really is all one to me. If a particular date sticks in my mind, then I'm kind of okay, but to be honest, I'll often remember the date for some silly reason and not anything intentional. For instance, I'll remember the date we ate ice cream in the park, but totally forget when I took my mother to the hospital (which is important, if I need to remember to take her again in a month's time!)

As well as people reacting personally, they also get aeriated when I lose track of how far away a future event may be. I don't know why they are so surprised - surely, if I forget what happened last week, then it's no big shazam if I forget how many weeks it is before the dog needs worming, or an appointment looms? Is this not why calendars were invented? Oh, come on, am I meant to remember the calendar too now?

I suppose what frustrates me is not just that I lose time, or let it slip away, lazily, across the smooth river - it's more that I am like this always: it is nothing new, yet it is treated as if it is new, almost every time I do it. I mention, frequently, that I will need reminders about things, or that I forget dates easily. Then, when I (predictably) forget a date and no one reminds me, my nearest and dearest moan as if I did it on purpose.

I think people need to get over it, or not be so forgetful themselves about my fecklessness. You either accept I'm going to forget and remind me, regularly, before the event, or you develop a mild personality and not get so worked up when an appointment sails past without a murmur from me. You have an aspie in your midst, get over it!

On a calmer note, I will add that I never forget the start date for the next series of my favourite show or the release date of a long-awaited film. Also, the cat's birthday is ingrained on my mind and so are the birthdays of at least five people in my close family.

You see, it's not a total washout, I just deal in different priorities. The passage of time is often a relative concept anyway; it's only the rigid and the right who decide everything needs to be remembered in the correct order - and look how much fun they usually have.

Amanda

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