A Word About Order

Left Turn Only
Turn left to maintain order.

Ryan carries many labels. Among them:

Autism spectrum disorder.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.


That word contained within, order, is so, so apt. So much of his life is about trying to create some order from all the noise.

Sometimes, he does things in a different order.

Other times, his actions are about Imposing some order on his world.

Still others, his efforts are about reordering his world to suit him.

Ryan provides reminders of his need to create order a dozen times a day, whether it’s insisting on the same breakfast (note to Kellogg’s stockholders, you can breathe easy, he ate four Eggo blueberry waffles this morning) or lining up his cars.

It’s why he watches a free-flowing, chaotic sport like hockey and puts his focus on a few singular team statistics — and why he gets so concerned if those stats don’t fit the order he would prefer.

When he plays that same sport, order is the reason he can break that free-flowing game down into a repeatable step that has brought him such success.

Order is the reason why he got so concerned when his bus driver insisted on turning one direction when leaving the school while all the other drivers ignored the posted sign and turned the other way. It’s also why he dropped his objection as soon as all the buses started obeying the sign and turning the same way.

His latest bit of imposing order on our lives is to insist that Veronica and he can only go left out of our house when walking to the bus stop each morning, even though the trip is shorter if they turn right.

Order is the reason he excels at math and struggles with reading comprehension.

Ryan may have a disorder, but he is a wizard at applying order to his world to make it easier to navigate. Sometimes, this puts him out of sync with his peers. Others, it allows him to find a different path that leads to the same result.

Either way, taken together it is a rather remarkable set of coping skills, and serves as a constant reminder that as much as we may wish he could mold himself to fit the “typical” world, he needs to take the opposite path.

Our job is to continue to fill his toolbox with things that can help him navigate that journey in, yes, an orderly fashion.

Hat-tip to Jess for the inspiration for today’s post. Hang in there.


4 thoughts on “A Word About Order

  1. Minus the hockey – I can totally see this being my kid when he gets older. He yells at us now in the car when we go a different way and does not accept when anything does not obey his sense of order. He has a very creative mind with what he believes is possible – I wish I could make things follow his order all the time.


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