Monday, October 31, 2005

Temperamental Mismatch

Temperamental mismatch is where one person's temperment is so different from another person's as to cause conflict. This can happen between parents and their complex children as well.

Billy Ray and I experience a temperamental mismatch - I am a "Messie" and he needs order.

A "Messie" is someone who struggles with disorganization. The term comes from an organization founded by Sandra Felton, Author of The Messies Manual and many other books on organization, Messies Anonymous (

A Messie can be quite successful careerwise but disorganized in their personal life. Ms. Felton describes several types of Messies in her books. I am a perfectionist messie. An example of this is that if I go to the linen closet or dresser drawer and find it disorganized I feel compelled to rearrange it before putting away clean clothes. I am also distractable so after I pull everything out to rearrange it I may well get distracted and leave a mess. I try to do too much so have lots of unfinished projects around the house.

When Billy Ray came to my late husband, Raymond and me, at 15 months old with the diagnosis of Down Syndrome, my messiness was not an issue for him. I am first of all a people person and he was my priority. We did all kinds of fun things together which helped him to thrive developmentally. He now has the dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome-Autism plus ADHD and bipolar.

He needs things to be in the same order all the time. For example, he is totally used to unfinished projects near my recliner chair and my desktop. However, he can't tolerate other things out of place. If I leave the ironning board up or something out of place he is likely to throw it accross the room because it disturbs him so much.

On the other hand, Billy Ray contributes to my messiness substantially. Just a few examples are:
  • The biggest issue is sleep deprivation. When you are tired it is hard to stay focused on keeping the house organized. There is one medication (of the many tried) that will work for a few months at a time before he builds up tolerance to it and has to stop taking it for a few months. I have noticed that during the months he is sleeping better I do better with the house.
  • He requires one to one attention at all times. When we don't have support staff here with him I need to be in view or close ear shot of him all the time. If housework is to be done he must co-operate with the task or it must be able to be done close to him.
  • He adds to my distractability by his constant interruptions.
  • Noises bother him so I can't use certain appliances when he is home.

Sandra Felton teaches "baby steps". This is vital when you have a complex child. I am discovering that when I am in the kitchen, I can sweep the kitchen floor in the time it takes for his microwave popcorn to finish. We involve Billy Ray in the process as much as possible, planning activities that he will do with his support staff and with me to help around the house.

It is a work in progress. I will share our progress with you from time to time.

Until tomorrow,

Peggy Lou Morgan


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