I've started on my PhD, and the first item on the agenda was to write a literature review. I thought that would be quite straightforward as there is virtually no research literature on autistic inertia so far. It has turned out to be a little more complicated.

Because of the lack of research specifically in this area, I have to outline the (rather large) hole I want to begin to fill, and justify why I think this is even an issue. So I went looking for anything to do with autism or related conditions and difficulty with doing stuff. In my travels, I have found the following terms for 'failure to do stuff'.

Terms used by (or about) the general population (i.e. those without a diagnosis of anything non-standard about their brain):

  1. Stuck
  2. Lack of motivation
  3. Laziness
  4. Procrastination
  5. Analysis paralysis
  6. Avoidance

Terms associated with psychiatric conditions:

  1. Amotivation
  2. Apathy
  3. Avolition
  4. Catatonia
  5. Dissociation

Terms associated with neurodevelopmental conditions

  1. Executive dysfunction
  2. Learned helplessness
  3. Non-compliance
  4. Oppositional defiance
  5. Pathological demand avoidance
  6. Prompt dependence

Terms associated with neurological disorders:

  1. Abulia
  2. Adynamia
  3. Akinesia
  4. Athymhormia
  5. Auto-activation deficit
  6. Impaired mental self-activation
  7. Endogenous-evoked initiation impairment
  8. Hypokinesia
  9. Initiative deficit

And then there's what autistic people often call it:

  1. Inertia

As long as every researcher for every condition calls it a different thing, we are doomed to make little progress in working out to what extent these conditions are the same or different, what mechanisms may underlie them, and what we might do to help those who struggle with them.

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