I call what happens to me “stovepiping”.
The blue lines represent my thinking process.
The pink lines represent the rest of the world.
The orange lines delineate what I call ‘the social layer’ of interaction — the place where people process information together.
This is not to say that I think the rest of the world is superficial or not as “deep” as me — it’s just an attempt to show how I tend to stray outside the social layer to think things through and process information, while the rest of the world goes on without me.
While people are talking and interacting, I can get overwhelmed, so I have to “step away” mentally and go off into my own space to make sense of what’s going on around me. I get very involved in a specific thing I’m thinking about… Sometimes it takes me a while to really get my head around what’s going on in the general vicinity, so I go into what I’m thinking about very deeply,
Meanwhile, the rest of the world around me moves on and (as far as i can tell) just disappears. They are interacting at a level that I find overwhelming and confusing — especially if I’m tired.
The more difficulties I’m having with parsing out all the stimuli around me, the deeper I go into the “stovepipe” of my subject, and the farther away from the rest of the world I get.
So, when someone tries to get my attention (from what seems like a very far distance), it can take a while for the communication to get to me. I’m going to draw a picture of the process, because it’s getting hard for me to put it into words, exactly.
I think a lot of us have this… tbi or not. The more involved we are in the things we’re thinking about and/or involved in, the more distant we can become towards the rest of the world. I think the difference between neurotypical folks and tbi or other “neurodiverse’ folks is one of degrees.