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Featured Zoning out?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Soup, Jul 20, 2012.

  1. Soup

    Soup Well-Known Member

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    Many Autistic people live the vast majority of their life in a zoned-out state where they are minimally accessible to other humans including their close relatives. Despite the obvious inconveniences & stress this causes their family members, think of the concentration it takes: enough to challenge even the most evolved meditating Zen master. Many still react to outside stimuli & are very sensitive to changes in textiles, temperature & touch etc. They also can express extreme displeasure if a room is rearranged or if objects they've lined up get moved.

    One of my Aspie skills is the ability to completely zone out. Sometimes I get a few spacey days (like yesterday & today) where I'm sort of on auto-pilot doing what I have to do but not being truly present. Zoning out is even more extreme: it is the ability to completely shut out the world & go into a trance- like state. Does anyone else out there do this? Please tell me about your experiences with this skill.
     
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  2. Christian T

    Christian T Well-Known Member

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    I do that all the time. I never thought of it as a skill before, but I suppose it does make walking to and from school much less boring because I've retreated into my own wonderfully entertaining thoughts. It also means I'm not constantly analysing and judging every petty thing I see. If my classmates are laughing at a man who walked past with a fluffy dog, I just simply let it pass and ponder more interesting things.

    This unsettles some people who aren't used to me. If I'm having a deep thought and they suddenly blurt out my name and a vague, clumsily-worded question, I stare at them blankly while computing a response, which they often don't bother waiting for.

    If anything genuinely attracts my interest, I will zone in once again, if not, I'll daydream I can always sense on walks home when someone's behind me, and turn around. These are primal instincts - think of how irritated lions would be if their brains felt the need to pay attention to every note of screeching birdsong around them. They know to look up when there's prey or a threat.

    These are my experiences and opinions on zoning out.
     
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  3. Soup

    Soup Well-Known Member

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    That is the same thing that I do. I think it is a form of multitasking Aspie style. We can still get from here to there & complete a host of mundane tasks (like I did yesterday) but be cognitively entirely elsewhere. Most of what goes on around us at any given time is completely irrelevant to us so why squander our attention on it?

    I think this ability to zone out is underrated, under-studied & under-appreciated. I'm certain many Aspies use this as internal anti-anxiety & anti-depressant 'medication' sparing us from gorging on heaps of poorly compounded pharmaceutical preparations that can cause unwanted side-effects that leave many taking yet more pills. Doctors seem to be interpreting this ability as a deficiency a symptom & a form of dysfunction best avoided. The more I think about it, the more it seems like a cultural coping mechanism with healing potential as it prevents the mind from becoming overwhelmed by excessive sensory input.
     
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  4. King_Oni

    King_Oni Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    In my experience I find it hard to zone out, at least in the way you describe Soup. That kind of "zoning" out would be ideal to do on certain jobs even. I feel I'm way to conscious about where I am at any given moment, and adding in what I'm doing at that moment. For me it sometimes takes great effort to not remind myself that I'm actually walking, because that will make it so much harder.

    I think a big thing in regards to zoning out might be that you actually to some extent like what you're doing and just do with an extreme focus, much like a trance-like state. I can see how this might work for someone who plays an instrument very well for example. Just doing what you like, playing a guitar solo or whatever... but even with stuff like that I'm really, way to conscious about what I'm doing, if I'm either standing, sitting, lying down... with that I'm also really aware about stuff like slight itches, the weight of my clothes, subtle background noises... sensory hypersensitivity.

    A thing that works partially for me in terms of zoning out, is at least isolating myself from others. I can actually keep busy with my projects and all, and it works best if I don't have a lot of social interaction in any way. No noises, no conversations, no tasks that require me to break from my "zoning out". And as such a break now, will require me to start all over again in 2 days or so... I can't go on to start later on. There's a reason I don't start working on personal projects until after dinner... there's also a reason why my phone is off 23 hours a day. I do my of my stuff at night, since the slightest sound from outside or light peeking in will annoy me enough to lose focus. And let's not forget mental state... if I have appointments somewhere in the near future I can't start my things. I have to have infinity time and an empty agenda to even start something and zone out. Especially since I know that I can zone out, and that I can easily keep that up for 2 days (and enjoy myself enough to not even worry about eating that much).

    So in that, I can zone out a bit, but it really depends on circumstances and surroundings way too much, and I can't block them out by zoning... they just have to be non-existant in the first place.
     
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  5. buckyboy14

    buckyboy14 Geo-Aspie

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    I can do that as well. I often do that in school. I'm listening, but the teachers don't realize that and yell at me to pay attention.
     
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  6. alien girl

    alien girl Well-Known Member

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    i zone out all the time, mostly at work, or i won't be able to handle the monotonous, boring job, but even at home sometimes. i did it in school when i was a kid. i've been doing it all my life to make it bearable.
     
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  7. Christian T

    Christian T Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone ever retreat into imaginings or thoughts when they zone out, or are you always just numb and senseless to the world when you do this, and mentally inactive?
     
  8. Kelly

    Kelly Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    When I zone out I stare at one spot and everything becomes hazy, almost dream like and distanced, it's such and odd feeling but I can do it at will now, I just concentrate really hard on one spot and let my mind drift.

    Christian I can drift off into an imaginary place or replay a movie in my head or whatever but that's not the same as my zoning out, when I zone out my mind goes completely blank, I can still hear things and repond to an extent but I don't know, it's so hard to explain. If I begin to think about things I snap out of the zone and into a different place if that makes sense? I'm still staring at one particular spot but my mind is active, so it may look like I'm zoned out but I'm not.
     
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  9. imagesbyholly

    imagesbyholly Well-Known Member

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    Oh, wow, I did this all the time in school. Like, the hazy tunnel thing and people actually appeared to shrink and become distant, voices softer. So weird. All these things I haven't thought about in so long or never thought I could have in common with someone keep popping up on this forum!
     
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  10. total-recoil

    total-recoil Well-Known Member

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    Was deep in thought trying to work out an electronics test-paper question on the street and walked straight into a car. Hit the car at the side door and bounced off like a ball.
    In the streets, kids sometimes yell insults as I walk along very slowly, deep in thought.
    My friends believe I'm into drugs.


     
  11. Cerulean

    Cerulean Well-Known Member

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    I use my zoning out skill (I like that we're calling it a skill) when I want to focus on something like a book in a noisy or chaotic area. It also helps me work through mental blocks and problems without getting distracted.
     
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  12. total-recoil

    total-recoil Well-Known Member

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    I learned I have a tendency to zone out and waste mental energy on the wrong sorts of issues (like trying to fit in with everybody else and being anxious). I since learned it would be far more useful to zone out with a purpose. That is, use the mental energy as an advantage and focus it. Zoning out now revoves around milliseconds, microseconds and nanoseconds. Like trying to work out calculations using microseconds with respect to milliseconds or, indeed, seconds. Mental gymnastics if you like. Anyway, in physics and electroniocs you need to think more in numbers. The more you push the boundaries, the more you improve. Not that I'm naturally good at maths but I just need to improve it for my electronics studies and the street is as good a place as any (but cars can be an inconvenience).

     
  13. Soup

    Soup Well-Known Member

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    Originally Posted by Christian T:
    "Does anyone ever retreat into imaginings or thoughts when they zone out, or are you always just numb and senseless to the world when you do this, and mentally inactive?"


    @ ChristianT: This is something I've done for years but never gave it a second thought until I read that many Aspies (esp teens) retreat into an imaginary world as a coping mechanism. Much of my art work & the stories I write came from that space. I thought that this was something perhaps everyone (Aspie & NT alike) did simply as a result of regular body functioning (like sneezing & blinking!). I've got entire sci-fi/fantasy worlds swimming in my head.
     
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  14. earthsteward70

    earthsteward70 Well-Known Member

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    I tune out the whole world when I am reading a book, but seems there has to be some kind of ambient noise going on for me to do this.

    On the Interstate highway I will automatically zone out while driving. My mind will run a tape of what's been happening, and as I drive the solution will naturally unfold, and I will have driven 30 miles yet it seems only 5 minutes has passed, and I don't remember the drive. Not that it would have been interesting anyway with nothing more to see than corn, soybeans, and the occasional tree.

    I have had to train myself to not completely zone out because my kids will get frustrated if they've got to ask me the same thing again, and even again. I know it frustrates them. My dad was the same way. He'd zone out at the TV and the world was gone to him unless the commercials were on. I learned to wait to communicate with him during the breaks.
     
  15. Christian T

    Christian T Well-Known Member

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    Oh no! I hope you recovered well. I've had so many near-crashes, but never any actual collisions. Most ironically, my closest was with an ambulance. I zoned out walking through a pedestrian crossing, thinking I was safe, and was paralysed by the blaring lights and deafening siren sounds.
     
  16. Soup

    Soup Well-Known Member

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    Yesterday I chose to zone out. There have been too many people buzzing about & chattering. Since I've altered my vitamin regimen due to getting more & better information, my energy levels have soared. I haven't felt this energetic since I was a kid: I'm getting tons done & my body wants to move! Sooo...

    I decided to re line all my kitchen shelves with this gorgeous light blue padded liner. To give you an idea of the size of this job, I've used 16 rolls already & I'm just under halfway done (!). This meant getting rid of anything we were not eating, anything past its date, any cans of food that we had too many of & putting them in the food donation bag (this is perfectly edible stuff like canned vegetables & fruits we simply had too many of). As a hyper-organized clean/neat freak Aspie (conveniently, my husband is the same way), I can disappear into this kind of task & apparently, I did.

    I only vaguely remember actually doing the work but my mother came up to chatter at me & apparently, I neither heard, saw nor responded to her presence in any way. She claims to have offered to help me but I kept working at a rapid pace neither responding to her looking at her or even pausing in my work. My body was on fast forward but my mind was on pause. Happily, I have no memory whatsoever of anyone approaching, passing or speaking to me. Zoning out is a skill I'm very glad to have. It allows the mind to rest & replenish itself & avoid becoming overwhelmed.
     
  17. WildCat

    WildCat and his scatterbrain V.I.P Member

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    I've got an overactive mind sometimes and I tend to more often than not get my head stuck in the clouds wherever. I've also caught myself concentrating so hard on one or two things that I almost shut out everything else around me. I know that's not the case with all autistics, but it's a common trait nonetheless.
     
  18. King_Oni

    King_Oni Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I recently discovered that I actually can zone out... but only if I'm in a sleep deprived state. I had it yesterday... didn't really sleep for more than 4 hours in 3 days and I kinda dozed of for 5 minutes... but actually, I don't really think I was sleeping... I know how I feel when I wake up from sleeping, this is different.

    But yeah, zoning out would work for me if I'm sitting in a comfy chair not doing anything and haven't done a lot in all those days... feeling tired-ish might contribute to being less sensory aware for me.
     
  19. Bay

    Bay Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I zone out, and can control it a little bit, but mostly I can't control it except to try to force myself to stay present when it's required. But with severe ADHD, I can zone out at nearly any time, in the space of a moment. My mind is like a pinball. It all makes sense to me but trying to explain it to people who see the distance in my eyes can be difficult. There are those who take offense at my lack of focus on what they are saying, and all I can say in my defense is "Sorry, my mind wandered. Can you please repeat that?". There's not much that I can do to make up for it. Of course, there are those times when I pretend to have followed what they are saying, but don't have a clue. That also fits into the category of when I am clueless because I cannot read someone's intent. "Um, sure. Whatever you say." and I have no idea either what they said or what they meant.
     
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  20. Dovi

    Dovi Well-Known Member

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    I zone out like this all the time. I don't even see whats around me at all. Sometimes I'll be driving when it happens (not safe I know). And I'll end up somewhere with no idea how I got there. But I explained this whole thing to my mom and she said it's jut daydreaming. So don't NTs do that too?