Autistic Inertia Part 3

Part 3: WHY do we get “stuck”? Executive functioning & Movement theories:

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

Autistic Inertia Part 3

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


Executive Function

Another reason for inertia is executive functioning; stopping and starting tasks requires EF.

Many participants described breaking a task down into many steps, which then seemed overwhelming.

Some participants struggled with identifying the first step, which made beginning a task difficult.

We need to further understand the relationship between inertia (negative experience) and intense focus or “flow”, (positive experience)



Inertia might also be linked to a difficulty with voluntary movement initiation, similar to a state of catatonia.

Some episodes of inertia can be ended by a small interruption or noise.

It can be useful to consider the different causes of inertia, but in reality it is very difficult to separate the impacts of emotions, executive function, and movement profiles!



Autistic adults found typical supports, such as calendars and alarms, to be of little use.

They identified prompting by another person who was present to be the most useful method of support.

“The only thing that helps me, only thing that works, and it works consistently, is just to have a stuck buddy that I text. … And all I have to do is text, ‘I’m stuck.’ […] And we just text it out and kind of make a plan.”

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