There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. - Narrator, The Twilight Zone, Season One.
Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.- Orison Swett Marden
If you are a professional sports fan, you often hear that there are some of the most elite athletes who enter “the zone.” The zone is an area where they are not flustered; where they can tune out all of the distractions of the crowd, of the arena, of the atmosphere, of the pressure; and where they can focus singularly on excelling at the task at hand.
In Autism, we also have our own little version of that we call “the zone,” which in adjective form is “zoney.” It has just become our little short shrift way of saying that the Little Man is having one of those days where he is particularly removed from any form of social interaction. Those days, which appear from time to time without any discernable pattern, where the Little Man cannot respond meaningfully to a simple question, and is perseverating on the orderly topic de jure: colors, shapes, planets, letters, numbers and, of course, that Baby Einstein junk (See Baby Einstein Post). Actually, the topic of interest most recently is the song A Whole New World – go figure.
I am not sure that I ever really used or understood the word “perseverating” before Autism imposed its will on our lives and, if I did, I certainly did not appreciate what it meant. Trying to describe what it is and how it has revealed itself to us would be akin to trying to tell someone what sardines taste like. You can use all the words you want, but you can never truly appreciate it until you experience the unpleasantness for yourself.
The dictionary definition of perseveration describes what it is quite well: “Perseveration is the repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.” That’s all well and good, but what is the fun in book learning? Some things you just need to experience.
I know I referenced this before, but did you ever get a song in your head and couldn’t get it out? After a while it gets so annoying and so frustrating, you just need to do anything to get rid of it. Imagine now, that you could not get that song out of your head for a few days. And imagine now that you were compelled to sing it. Image that all you could focus on is the lyrics; that you could not even process simple requests; or perform basic functions; or be aware of your surroundings. All you can focus on is that song.
One of our truly incredible providers once said our Little Man almost always has a full length feature presentation going on inside his head. On an average day, his mind is constantly going back and forth between the “real world” and The Zone. Some days, the good days, the “real world” wins and he is engaging, and brilliant and fun and clear for most of the day. Other days, the bad days, he is stuck in the Zone and he is removed, and frustrated and challenged.
And now, back to figuring out what the triggers are!