Warning: It's all about the challenges of disrupted expectations, which are especially distressing to neurovariant people. Consider your tastes and headspace accordingly.
"The Need for Routine"
It was impossible for
the norms to understand
that the need for routine was
just that: a need, as essential
and inexorable as the insistence
that the four chambers of the heart
cooperate to establish a rhythm.
Regimen knew this, just as
he knew the names of the stars
and the spacelanes that stretched
between them and the outposts
that had no names, only codes.
He came to the Lacuna
precisely because he was
so good with things, and
so bad with people, here
where the one mattered
and the other did not.
But then the war ended
and the Arms pulled apart,
away from the Lacuna,
and nothing was the same
and he needed it to be the same.
Regimen wanted his future back,
dammit, the future he had planned
so meticulously in his calendar
with the color codes and
the notations just so.
He couldn't even get his comfie anymore,
and life without a cup of comfie was
a thing not to be contemplated.
He understood, of course, that
accommodations must be made
when disaster has intervened, but
it still made him uncomfortable.
Regimen did his job as best he could,
but the supply lines were mangled and
the paperwork no longer flowed as
it should and his brain itched.
If he couldn't get some comfie
then he was going to have a meltdown
and it was utterly horrible when
his brain ate itself like that.
Regimen was at the absolute
end of his rope when Router sent
Astin with a whole case of comfie
and Regimen's world settled,
if not quite back where it belonged,
at least with all four table legs
firmly back on the floor.
As long as there was comfie,
he thought, he could cope
with the other changes.
* * *
Routines provide structure in everyone's life, but are especially critical for neurovariant people who often feel overwhelmed by input. Autistic people may not even notice their routines, which seem normal to them unless disrupted; neurotypical people may not realize their value until they experience the reassuring effect personally. Learning how to respond to routines is an important step in helping people with autism.
Comfie is a leaf-and-bean beverage with hints of chocolate and tea. The version favored in the Lacuna is an instant mix, but more akin to matcha tea powder than instant coffee. Some people find that hot or cold drinks aid in self-regulation; coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are favored by different individuals.
Meltdowns are not temper tantrums, but rather a catastrophic loss of control which is miserable for everyone. Understanding why meltdowns happen is necessary to help someone deal with them.