>New question. out of curiosity..for guest who posted on 8/2 - or any one else who might be reading who may be dealing with high functioning autism...do you feel like GTD helps you to manage your autism? I know its been used to work with kids/adults with ADD as it helps with the "executive function" (prioritizing, decision making, organizing). Folks with autism have similar challenges - if I understand correctly, they simply have less neural pathways in this section of their brain, but this can be strengthened with practice. I'd love to know your thoughts.
Hello. Me again. About GTD helping manage my autism .. not particularly, no, I don't think significantly more than any other time management program has helped (and I've tried countless). What I have managed to implement re GTD has helped only marginally. GTD like any other system (making lists, keeping calendars, etc) are just tools/skills. The problems with autism related to executive functioning have more to do with the root issue of the problems with episodic memory (also called emotional memory or autobiographical memory) and the autistic problem of limited motivations.
Yes, I believe it is generally accepted at the moment by researchers that the problem in autism is the wiring between the prefrontal cortex and the limbic system, but (IMHO) "practice" by rote trial has limited value in strengthening the pathway, because a lot of practice means little if the *memory* part is not there to support it. I am a big believer in Dr Gutstein's approach in building *motivations* for a skill before trying to rote-build a skill. In addition to my own personal experience, research has shown that skills without intrinsic motivations are very poorly generalized later. Also, I am a big believer in doing things at the developmentally appropriate time. Doing things "out of order" is a sure recipe for a mess later. My life is a testament to that.
About GTD and autism specifically .. where it breaks down in a huge way is the 'intuitive choice' about what to do in a given moment .. without a well-functioning episodic memory, that's an extremely difficult task for a person on the spectrum. "Managing" autism is more about addressing the deeper deficits of relative information processing, flexible thinking, past/future thinking, episodic memory, (and of course social co-regulation, referencing and declarative communication.) To a large extent, GTD "assumes" an ability in the fundamental neurotypical abilities of 'executive functioning' (defined by Dr Gustein as 'the ability to reflect on past experiences and anticipate potential future scenarios to make decisions in the present to lead to desired goals,' which goes back to the problem with episodic memory.) So in developmental terms, I would say that much of GTD is for individuals who are quite far along the developmental pathway.
I'm not quite sure I have put my finger on the "dissonance" I feel in terms of your question .. GTD may help me manage my life as well as any other time management system I've tried over the years .. but I would not say that it helps me manage my autism, no, because the problem with autism is a lot deeper than any "tricks" or tools. Let me see if I can explain this better .. if you couldn't remember how much you loved doing something (or hated doing something).. how easy would it be for you to know if you wanted to do it again and whether to make it a priority? If you never experienced feeling happy about interacting with someone else, how easy would it be for you to decide you wanted to see them again despite it being a next action on your to-do list? GTD may help manage 'stuff' and 'activities' but it does not really help "manage" these more fundamental difficulties of autism, no.
Hope this helps explain it a bit. Thanks for asking. )