This is an excerpt of an article I wrote about inertia a very long time ago. It is about my personal experience of being unable to get things done. It also includes things that hinder and help in dealing with problems like this.
I have a great deal of difficulty getting anything done, even when I want to very much. I often just sit around doing absolutely nothing, or continue doing one thing, for extended periods. I just can’t get my brain and body “in sync” with my goal. It’s just impossible for me to get started. On the other hand, I can easily get “stuck” in what I’m doing and be unable to stop. The harder I push myself or someone pushes me, the harder it is for me to get going. My friend long ago labeled this problem “inertia”.
Some personal examples:
- I don’t eat until my stomach hurts, but when I start eating I don’t stop until either I’m uncomfortably full or all the food is gone.
- I don’t pay bills until the day the company is going to disconnect me.
- I very rarely wash my dishes, clothes, or do other housework, but when I get around to it, I can sometimes get lots done.
- I often avoid doing something as simple as changing the channel on the TV.
I used to think the problem was laziness or procrastination, but it appears to be more complex and it’s not deliberate. Even when I am highly motivated with enormous consequences (positive or negative), and know what to do and how, I still don’t do it. Instead, I sit and think about it or plan exactly what I am going to do in minute detail. Conversely, sometimes I get started, even on something I don’t particularly enjoy, and can’t stop it. If I were just lazy, I don’t think I would do so much at times.
From my discussions with other autistics and their families, I have found that this problem is relatively common in people of all functioning levels. Some others even used the word “inertia” to describe their problem as well. However, despite the frequency of it, there is very little written about inertia-like problems in autistics.