Autistic Inertia p.2

Part 2! WHY do we experience inertia? Emotional & motivational factors in “getting stuck”

Part 1 here:

Full paper here:…/fpsyg.2021.631596/full

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Nothing about us without us
Who: Buckle and colleagues
Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
Published: 2021
Title: “No Way Out Except From External Intervention”: First-Hand Accounts of Autistic Inertia

Inertia Part 2

Characteristics of Initiation Impairments
Why is it that sometimes we cannot start doing the things we intend to do?


Emotion and Motivation

Autistic people are often labelled as lazy, unmotivated, or non-compliant when they fail to act.

Autistic inertia is different to voluntary task avoidance because:
1) it affects both tasks you don’t want to do and also ones you do want to do
2) strong motivators can override task avoidance but not inertia
3) inertia involves difficulty stopping a task as well as starting one
4) task avoidance can be pleasurable, inertia is uncomfortable and distressing


Inertia caused an emotional cycle of feeling bad, and then feeling less able to start due to feeling bad

However, the most intense episodes of inertia was not linked to strong emotion, but to a lack of emotion & thoughts

Despite being aware of feelings like hunger and pain, and the negative consequences of not acting, the inertia was almost like a dissociation, feeling disconnected from their body, their environment, and the passage of time.


The lack of recognition around autistic inertia impacted peoples self-concept.

“it’s hard not to feel lazy or inadequate about one’s own inertia without the proper understanding of what it really is and what it really means.” – Sparrow, 2016

The ability to respond to one’s environment at will is intimately connected with social interaction, agency,
and identity.

So, inertia is not entirely to do with emotion & motivation. It may also be to do with executive function,
and movement.*
*Covered in future posts

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