Spoon Theory

Good morning!

I’m just sitting here thinking about spoon theory.

What is spoon theory? Well, I’m glad you asked. Spoon theory is a theory in the autism realm that people with autism have less spoons, or energy, per day than most people.

The theory calls the energy people have in a day “spoons,” and you only have so many spoons every day. Every action you make requires a number of spoons. So, let’s say that a “normal” person wakes up with 50 spoons. Getting ready might require 1/2 a spoon, or none at all. Making breakfast might require 0-1/2 spoon. And so forth throughout the day. Most people get to have a lot of spoons (remember, spoons=energy) to spend on tasks throughout the day.

But people with autism not only have fewer spoons to begin with, but they also use up more spoons for many tasks. For example, A person with autism may wake up with only 35 spoons. Then, getting ready might require an entire spoon. Then, making and eating breakfast might take 1-2 spoons.

Then, as people get tired or hungry throughout the day, tasks require more spoons. It’s going to take more energy to make dinner than to make breakfast.

I have some autistic tendencies (I think I actually do have Asperger’s, but I haven’t been formally diagnosed), and this theory is about to be of great use to me. For a long time, I’ve been ignoring these tendencies and just pushing through the days. I’d tell myself that other people did it, so I could as well. As I’ve become more and more of an adult, with my own house to take care of and children to take care of, I’ve definitely noticed that my ability to do tasks throughout the day has lessened. In high school (when I didn’t have kids, and my parents took care of the house), I wore make up. I didn’t wear a lot of it, because that’s not my personal preference, but I would wear make up about once a month. Now that I have more responsibilities, I almost never wear make up. Yesterday, I put on mascara. It looked good, and it made me feel really good. But, by the time it came to take it off, I had no spoons/energy left. I was just going to leave it on, but my husband actually brought me all the things I needed, and I took the mascara off right in the bed. Even if I’d had one spoon of energy left, I would probably need that to fall asleep. Yes, the act of going to sleep can be hard on people with autism (it usually takes us a lot longer – like, it takes me 1/2 an hour to an hour to fall asleep).

The make up incident really made me realize that I would do well to use spoon theory to my advantage. I’m going to go through my day and label how many spoons I think a task will take. I’m hoping this will help me accomplish everything in a day without sapping my energy. I think this is why the Block Schedule by Jordan Paige never worked for me. It allowed me to get so much done, but it took all my energy. But I may use it as an outline for my own schedule. I do think it’s a good idea, but I definitely need to modify it for my own use. Some of the ideas that Jordan has, like doing a task while waiting for the microwave to finish, tend to sap my energy. I need the 30 seconds or whatever to just do nothing.

I’m going to go work on that, but I hope that this helps you in some way. Good luck with your own spoons!

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