Posted by: E (The Third Glance) | April 13, 2012

Excuse me, my Autism is showing…

I’m the youngest person in my PhD program. Everyone else has at least a year on me, and most of them are 4 or 5+ years older. Every Friday morning, we have a 4 hour laboratory course (starting at 8am, no less), in a really amazing subject. Today’s lab had 2 parts (and they split the class so we were in small groups) – my group’s first section involved looking at a lot of interesting critters under microscopes. It made me super duper happy, and definitely more than a little flappy, rocky, and stimmy. I love microscopic critters (and macroscopic critters, and all sorts of other stuff too), and it was super duper neat to see all of them, and learn what they were called and how they worked and things. Plus, they were SUPER DUPER CUTE!!!!!! <invoke lots of stimming and happiness>. Most of my classmates don’t explicitly know I’m Autistic (though 2 of them do). They all know that I’m younger than them, and that might explain some of my immaturity. They also know I’m super enthusiastic about my subject, and can get very bouncy. They also know I have sensory issues and I’ve explained why I have to sit in the same part of the classroom every day. And they know I have a lot of difficulty with most social interactions. If any of them actually sat down and thought about it for a minute, they’d realize I’m Autistic. But it doesn’t come up in conversation, and it doesn’t really matter in academia – if you can’t be lost in thought in grad school, then what has the world come to? But this morning, was an Autism-filled morning. First the happiness/excitement of looking at all the cool critters! Definitely moments where I wanted to say to my classmates: “Yes, yes, I KNOW my Autism is showing!” But I wasn’t ever met with hostile glances… just smiles at the young girl who is so excited about the lab. There were some squeals and bounces from other classmates as well, so I wasn’t even alone. This is why I love academia. I don’t have to explain anything. They take me as I am, and accept me for me, quirks and all.

The second part of the lab, we were doing a more controlled experiment with a bunch of chemicals, and a fancy microscope. It involved a LOT of noises and smells, and by the time we were halfway through, I was into “stim for survival” mode. I have happy stims and agitated stims (and stims for other things too). “Stim for survival” involves lots of small rocking back and forth on my feet and hand flapping by my sides. I can do that without being really obvious and still be functional. It’s calming.

But then a subset of us went into the microscope room. I have “superhuman hearing”. It’s one of my hyper-senses, and it’s one that can cause a lot of pain. When we walked into the room, immediately, I was met with an assaulting high-pitched noise. One that was incredibly painful, and induced the “hands over ears/ tears in eyes/ massive rocking/ ‘that is a bad bad bad noise’/ hand wringing/ neck twisting” response, a response that I am usually able to curb before it gets that extreme. Everyone (especially the professor) was like “what noise? There’s no noise, you’re crazy” and I’m standing there, face twisting with pain (I bite the insides of my cheeks to keep myself from making insane faces), breathing weirdly, and trying to explain “there’s an awful high-pitched noise. It’s coming from over there. It hurts and I can’t filter it out, I’m sorry!” while forcing my hands away from my ears and trying to look respectful of the professor and not disrupt the lesson any more than I have. Because I know that my reaction was disruptive. I couldn’t help it. It was like walking into a room with 10 fire alarms going off, all at once, all at super high pitched frequencies. After the initial shock, I managed to get enough words out to explain to the professor that I have “superhuman hearing” (or to him, I’m just younger than everyone else, so I haven’t lost that part of my hearing – only one other in the room could hear it, and it was just at the edge of her limit and not that loud for her, since she could barely hear it), and he went on with the lesson. I barely made it through the “this is how to use the scope” parts of it, but I did. Lots of rocking and hand-wringing, and I bit my cheek so hard it bled. And only a little bit of fingers in my ears. The sound made me feel physically sick, shaky, and awful. Sensory overload, indeed. I’m still getting over it, hours later.

So this morning was definitely an “excuse me, my Autism is showing” day. I don’t have many, and I’d like to think I’m pretty good at hiding them until I can escape the situation, so as not to draw attention to myself, and not be disruptive. But sometimes it happens. I have worked my whole life to learn how to “pass” as neurotypical, and in the times when I can’t pass (which, really, is most of the time), to simply render myself invisible, and not draw attention to the fact that I’m not passing. It’s something I do now, almost as second nature. I have a huge number of tricks and techniques I’ve developed to render myself invisible, so as not to commit the crime of letting my Autism show.

When I get thrust into sensory overload, I grasp my hands together incredibly tightly, bite the insides of my cheeks, squeeze my eyes shut, and count to ten. Then again and again, until I’m able to escape the situation, or build up manual filters to get through it. I rock on my feet. I move to the back of the crowd so that everyone’s back is to me, so they don’t notice that I’m not acting like them. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. I’ve been living independently from my parents (who abused me for letting my Autism show) for nearly 4 years. But 18 years of abuse is hard to shake. But today was a rare day where I just didn’t have the energy or mental capacity to hide. Not enough spoons, so to speak The sound was too much, I was too overloaded and I lost it. I managed to pull “it” back together, and continue with the class, but it was a near thing. But once, just once, I’d like to feel comfortable saying “excuse me, my Autism is showing”, and have people not look at me like I was crazy for having to cover my ears for an awful sound.

Sometimes having an invisible disability is even more debilitating, because no one can see it. The assumptions are different. The expectations are different. I look just like everyone else, but my body and brain process the world completely differently. I would love it if, next time I walk into a room and had a sensory overload, instead of having people try to convince me I’m hearing things, or that I’m just wrong, and trying to draw attention to myself for no reason, to accept that I’m not attention seeking (the moment my brain went into overload and I had to cover my ears, I began to wish to be invisible and not draw ANY attention at all), and to accept that I am hearing a sound that is real and there, and to help me deal with it. But above all, I wish that it was safe and acceptable to say “excuse me, my Autism is showing”.

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Responses

  1. Wait a sec. Did you ever find out what was causing that high pitched noise?

    I’ve got a theory I’ll run past you: Is there any sort of a security system in that room?

    The reason I’m asking is that my wife also has very high sensitivity to high frequency sound. The first time this came up was in an art gallery in Boston. They had a Rembrandt I’d studied reproductions of when trying to learn how to light for portraiture. The closer we got to it, the more uncomfortable she got. When she explained it sounded like she was being attacked by mutant bats, I figured out what was going on. Sure enough when I looked, I found more than one ultrasonic motion sensor positioned around the Rembrandt.

    You described the lab as a “microscope room”. If there are high end scopes in there, the university might have a security system in the room that you’re hearing.

    Other possibilities I’ve run into that set off my wife are fluorescent light fixtures, high frequency power transformers, ultrasonic mosquito repellants, malfunctioning CRT monitors, DC servomotors (we use tons of these at work, unfortunately), 3-phase VFD motor systems, malfunctioning A/V equipment, and many many others.

    One way to convince people it’s real is to come back with recording equipment that goes up to 20-40kHz. It should show up. If you have some sort of FFT waterfall display on the recording gear (or software on a laptop!) it should let you know what frequency it is, and with the use of a handheld microphone you should be able to pinpoint what’s causing it. Turn that piece of equipment off and see if the noise stops.

    If you’re going to spend any time in this room in the future, it’s probably worth investigating this a little further so you don’t have to go through sonic assault every time you need to use a microscope.

    • Indeed, I did figure it out – it was an epifluorescent scope (I use dissecting and compound light microscopes for my research), and it had an old-time display monitor hooked up to it – the monitor was what was causing that AWFUL sound. I only have another 30 or so minutes of stuff to do in the room, and I will come prepared with headphones next time. Sadly, can’t turn off the display…

  2. I spent most of my life trying not to be noticed for being odd. It sort of worked, but like your morning, fell all apart at the times when I was least able to deal with it. I spent so much time passing I lost my identity in the process. It feels better now to be completely upfront and ‘out’ about my autism. I feel more human, and have an easier time asking for accomodations here or there. You have to decide about that–who you can tell and who you shouldn’t tell. But I will tell you that it has made me feel more worthwhile. (I’m happy about the wonderful critters you experienced today!)

    • Thanks for the comment 🙂 I definitely agree with you about the fact that when I’m upfront with people about my Autism, I’m able to be much more “me” and feel more human/happier/etc. However I was raised on this “Autism is bad, do not tell anyone about it and do not let it be known that you have anything different than the rest of the world, because they will treat you badly for it and you will never live it down” rhetoric, and though the few people I’ve told have been wonderful, I picked them carefully. Telling the world (especially, in my case, my professional colleagues, bosses, etc.) is much more of a risk. One that I’m not sure I should take. It’s a hard question….

  3. Oh, Third Glance (don’t know what to call you), I, too, wish it were safe & acceptable to say, “My autism is showing!” I’m sorry that you are forced to work so very hard to hide your reactions from people who don’t understand. It must be hard enough just experiencing the world differently from most other people! I think about this issue a lot, since my 25-yr.-old son is autistic.

    Jason has a different type of autism than you have, and it’s quite severe. He is non-verbal and has many behavioral problems. He has been diagnosed as “mentally retarded,” but I don’t believe he is. I know that he has sensory issues too. He hates loud or high-pitched noise and likes to keep his room fairly dark. He also avoids certain textures, and even some colors seem to agitate him. Your descriptions of your own reactions to things offer me a glimpse into my son’s reality– something he can’t articulate to me. I know that his reality may not be exactly the same as yours (probably isn’t); but, your descriptions are closer than I could come on my own, I’m sure! You have helped me to understand my son a little better. I truly thank you for that.

    Thanks so much again for sharing! I wish you the best. You are clearly a brilliant young woman with a bright future. I hope you will continue to write about being autistic and what it’s really like. There are many “neurotypicals” who need to be enlightened and educated about autism, and many people “on the spectrum” who need just to be understood. You are a gift to us all.

    • Aww Lynne, thanks! You can call me “E” 🙂

      I too have a lot of sensory issues. I am lucky in that I (most of the time) have the capacity to internalize them – it takes up a lot of my mental energy to do so, and I wish I didn’t have to, because then I could use my mental energy on other things! I’m especially picky about textures and sounds. (Textures of foods, especially – eating is often awful for me). I’m so glad you’ve found my blog, and thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. 🙂 Also, if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend my post called “words” – it’s one of my favorites, and really is a look into how I process conversation. https://thethirdglance.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/words/

  4. My husband has insisted for several years that I explain my noise problems to basically anyone, so people don’t take offence in my rejections of invitations for dinner, lunch and parties or think I am weird when I ‘freak out’ (I don’t think I freak out, but my husband says that about my slightly irrational, stressed, irritated overload-behaviour)… or ‘think there is something wrong with them when you behave annoyed and rushed and cut them off’ (to get out of an unbearable situation ASAP). I don’t have autism and don’t have a label for my problems with noise, so I simply describe the most relevant noise problems to people as it comes across, and sometimes just say that I have ‘a hearing problem’ (slightly true). While I don’t like to explain because people look at me like I’m talking an alien language when I do, I think the policy is sound and it has made me feel much more relaxed and comfortable with people who are aware that I have these issues.

    (Conclusion: I think it is best to let people know about invisible disabilities)

    • 🙂 Thanks for the comment! And yes, in general I agree. I just worry about doing so in a professional sphere. This time, I got off with “I’m younger, I haven’t lost that part of my hearing yet”, but that excuse won’t work forever.

  5. 3G–

    Glad you’ve identified the source : )

    I always get the ” you’ve got super hearing but haven’t heard a word I said,” statements thrown at me. My usual response is, “was it important.”

    • LOVE the response to that. 😛 I explain that “I have superhuman hearing and I hear *everything* therefore, it’s super hard to focus only on your words. I am sorry, and since now I know you’re talking to me, I’ll focus on your words. now.”

      • It’s January 2014 and I am just 71. I have only just found all the ‘Aspie’ blogs. What a time to realise you are the same kind of person as your middle-aged and officially Aspergers son! Anyway, re noise, I can identify with all the foregoing. And in my case I am incapable (except on a really good day) of attending to more than one voice at a time – so if my best-beloved talks to me over the TV I want to scream because I have to choose. If I choose him I completely lose the thread of the programme commentary, which is infuriating because I can’t ask it to repeat what it just said; if I choose to stick with the TV he is offended and here we go with ‘You never hear a word I say’. Also I miss chunks of what someone is saying to me once my mind goes into rehearsal mode, pre-playing what I am going to say in response. All I can hear is my own voice, real-time, in my head. This is just the way it is. Thank you, all of you, for sharing your experience. It’s so enlightening and so helpful!

  6. First, I absolutely loved your paragraph where you talked about how happy you were to be looking at microscopic critters. I could FEEL your enjoyment. Love that!

    Second, I am auditorily sensitive, so I can only imagine how painful that must have been for you in the lab. I am glad you were able to identify it and can prepare for it next time. How terrible,though, for you in that moment.

    • Thanks for the comment Lisa! Yes, I LOVE microscopic critters… they’re SOOOOO cute and so super neat. Have you ever heard of tardigrads? (also known as water bears?) I think I’ll write a post about them some time soon, because they’re just SO FREAKING INSANELY COOL.

      And yes, I managed to ID where the sound was coming from within 2 minutes. Usually I’m faster than that, but alas, it was such a bad sound, and I was already so worn out, I didn’t have the capacity to deal with it. I feel like I would’ve done better if I hadn’t spent an hour already in a really loud smelly wetlab.

  7. You open my mind a little bit more with each post… you can’t know how grateful I am to you for it. Please never stop writing. 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the comment. 🙂 It is truly a remarkable feeling knowing that my writing has meant something to someone. Thanks 🙂

  8. Wow this is so familiar! Thanks for sharing!

    I used to have a Geography teacher who’d show us short video clips during classes but leave the TV on standby for the whole lesson and I would be in actual pain at the high pitched noise the CRT TV made when it was on standby. I’d have to beg could he please turn the TV off and there would be maybe one other kid in the class who could even hear the noise as a slight hiss.

    I never realised why that was!

    Was the noise you were dealing with a cathode ray tube in low power mode?

    • I definitely remember that feeling – every time the TV went on in class, I would cringe. Probably was a CRT…

  9. I just found your blog recently, and I just want you to know how much I enjoy reading your point of view. I have a 13 year-old with Asperger’s, and now that he’s not little anymore (all the books and websites seem to be geared toward smaller kids), it’s VERY helpful to see the perspective of a young adult and imagine what could be coming up for my son in a few years. 🙂

    • Thanks for coming back and commenting! 🙂 I totally get that “he’s not little anymore” – as one Autistic teenager recently put it “Autistic kids grow up” – and we grow up into Autistic Adults. If we’re given the right tools throughout our lives, we can live extremely happy, fulfilling lives. I’m just one of many voices (some arguably much much better than me) of young adult autistic individuals. So thank so much for stopping by! I hope you continue to come back. 🙂

  10. Thank you for this post. I find it so frustrating when I can hear a noise that no-one else can, things like monitors – or the whine from external speakers left on when the computer is turned off.

    I refuse to have any electronics in the bedroom and have to sleep with ear plugs in because my husband can only fall asleep while listening to music, he uses high end sennheiser headphones attached to his ipod but I can still hear the music leaking through. Drives me crazy.

    • Thanks for the comment! Oh yeah, the external speakers on a computer! I can hear those the minute I walk into a room and they’re on.

  11. Wow!!! Such a great post thankyou! My Aspie boy turned 18 last week and being an adult with ASD is a whole new ballgame. I wonder though, as you say there was no negative response from classmates, if you could “out yourself”. You probably aren’t the only one who has been told they are flying on the spectrum. So many super-dooper intelligent grad-school capable people are!!
    My son has heightened smell and can identify who has visited our home throughout the day as he walks through the door. He is also very tactile and likes to immerse his face in things- cats, dogs and cushions in particular. LOL
    Best of luck in your studies

    • Thanks, Lisa, for your awesome comment. 🙂

      I could “out myself” to my classmates, and really, honestly haven’t tried to hide (like I said, if they thought about it for a minute, they’d figure it out on their own). It’s not them, so much as my professors. Only one of them knows, because he asked me about it explicitly, and I don’t lie. My advisor, I’m sure, actually knows, though we’ve never discussed it, I worked with him for 3 years before joining his lab as a graduate student, so he knows me really well, and even without the name, he is well aware of my quirkiness, etc. Sadly, the world really isn’t in a place where I can say “I’m Autistic” and *NOT* have people jump to conclusions that just aren’t true, and they’re conclusions that would hurt me professionally and academically. So unless I have to for other reasons, I simply describe myself as “quirky”, “young”, and have “lots of sensory sensitivities” (I’m picky about textures too – those are my biggies). That seems sufficient. Those all add up to “Autistic”, but the instant you add that to the mix, the tone can change, unless you’re with someone who actually knows what Autism is.

      • So so true.. I am always saying “Not all Autism looks like Rainman “! So many societal misconceptions.. I am really hoping that the next few years bring more openess and acceptance. In my opinion we are all on the Spectrum, some of us are just better at hiding it than others. An arbitrary line on the scale which decides “normal” is ridiculous

  12. Wow. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m a new PhD student myself so it was great to hear how much you are loving academia. I’m also researching autism in adulthood so it was fantastic to gain some insight into what it is like to experience sensory sensitivity. I hope one day soon that “outing oneself” is not something to worry about. Maybe by that time everyone will realise that we’re all on the spectrum somewhere to varying degrees. Thanks again, I really enjoyed your post.

    • Thanks for your comment! 🙂 Academia is definitely something both amazing and insane. I feel like I fit there, though.

  13. You’re welcome. I agree. It’s great finding like-minded people in academia who are passionate about the same things as you. What is your research area?

    • Indeed… my research area is (for online purposes) “science”. If I describe too much, I become instantly identifiable, since I’m working on such a specific thing, and right now I need to be anonymous. But you’re welcome to email me, and I will discuss more offline if you’re really interested. 🙂

      • No worries. The best of luck with your research 🙂

  14. Hi E! Thank you for your blog. Not sure how I came across it? Luck? Fate? Call it whatever you wish. 🙂

    My son is 9 and is moderately PDD, and I just came back from Temple Grandin’s conference yesterday. I mainly went to get some insight from her on how to deal with several issues my husband and I are having with him. After listening to her speak, I started to go over inmy mind all of the issues that I have had growing up and even now in my marriage. I do believe I have autistic tendancies with ADD/ADHD traits, although I have never been officially diagnosed.

    My mom did confirm this for me, stating that I have always been different in my social interactions with others to my thinking patterns and even how I do everyday life very routine like). Although, I have over come many obstacles, I still am having trouble with socialization.

    It’s as though someone has turned a light bulb on inside my head and I now have some understanding as to why I was always different from others, even now as an adult, people treat me differently. Perhaps I have been misunderstood by most? I don’t know.

    My question is… how do I over come these obstacles now? Do I share with people why I am the way I am? What do you suggest?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts. 🙂

    • Hi there! Thanks for your comment. 🙂 I’m glad you found my blog too. Welcome to the club! In my experience (and it is neither vast nor deep, as I’m 22 and still new to this myself), you’ve already built up coping mechanisms over the course of your lifetime. Read about Autism/ADD/ADHD, especially how it presents in women (I’m making the assumption you’re a mom, if that isn’t correct, please forgive me.) – I suggest reading about aspergers and girls. There are some good books out there, especially one called “Aspergirls” by Rudy Simone. For me, the key was becoming self-aware… being able to say “yes, this is how my brain processes. I am going to take the extra beat and figure out how to react”. You should read through some of my other posts – they might give you further insights. (check out the “Posts I’m most proud of” tab – especially Words, and the 2 “my diagnosis story” posts might be of interest.)

      Thanks for your comment! –E

  15. I’m 50 now, and for the most part of my life there wasn’t any name for what I was experiencing: the sounds, the details everywhere. When it became too much, I just left, ran away, or, if that wasn’t possible, fought it. Later I learned to explain to other people: don’t be too loud, don’t come too close, don’t smell too strong. It never was a big problem in any of my jobs, but I’m lucky with my profession anyway. I could always leave for a moment, with a short “excuse me”.

    As for “being functional”, one thing I learned early enough: I’m not on this world to meet anybody’s expectations. If someone doesn’t like my behaviour, fine. There’s more than 6 billion other people he could like instead.

    • Thanks for your comment! Expectations are definitely overrated, but they are relevant and lies can be affected by them, regardless. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  16. Hello E,

    Another excellent post.

    Have you seen those apps which do hearing tests? They play a sound at different khz levels and tell you your hearing ‘age’. Apparently my hearing age is about ten years older than my chronological age – I used to play in a band and listened to a lot of loud music when I was younger which might explain that… 🙂

    I hope you don’t mind my asking this, but do you feel there is a difference in autism labelling? What I mean by that is, do you think it’s preferable to say, “This person IS autistic”, or, “This person HAS autism”? Or something different? I notice you refer to yourself as being autistic, and I was wondering if that was a conscious choice or not? I recently read ‘Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” (Notbohm, 2004) and I’ve been reconsidering my vocabulary…I’d be really interested in your opinion, if you have time.

    • Hi MrsC, Thanks for your comment! I think I’ll go try to find one of those apps, now I’m curious! In terms of the “Autistic” vs. “Has Autism”, I personally prefer “Autistic” – one doesn’t say “Has gayness”, they say “is ay”. Being autistic isn’t something I can separate from myself. To remove the Autism is to remove the person. A lot of Autistic adults prefer the label “Autistic” for these reasons. I’ve not ever really expounded on this in writing, but here’s one individual’ take on it: http://autistichoya.blogspot.com/2011/08/significance-of-semantics-person-first.html

      It comes down to the fact that to me, autism defines my very core. It isn’t something secondary, like a disease that can (and almost always should) be removed. It’ a way of being. It’s not an *easy* way of being, but it is one.

      I should also add that while I prefer “Autistic”, and do dream of a day when everyone inside and out of the Autism community agrees and respects with that choice, I know that many individual (almost always parents, but a few individuals on the spectrum as well), prefer “has autism” or “person with autism” – that’s their own choice and I respect it for themselves. If someone tells me that they prefer (for themselves) “has autism”, I’ll respect it, and I only expect they do the same for me.

      • Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, and for the links.

        I have to admit I’d never really thought about the difference much until reading the above-cited book, as well as other (professional!) material. I realise now that none of these sources actually take into account what autistic people are saying on the subject, – and apparently miss the irony in that.

        In any case, I know which version to use now, and why. 🙂

  17. I can’t believe you stayed through that noise! I would have ‘faked a migraine’ and left. (I know staying for class is important, but so is your health and well being.) Kudos to you for sticking it out.

  18. The more we (working adults) do identify (publicly) as autistic, the less stigma there will be for the next generation behind us. Like it or not, we have to be the trailblazers. If we truly believe “nothing about us without us” then we need to make sure we are in the conversation and sometimes that means starting it.

  19. As a neurotypical teacher and student, I would want to know that you are autistic. The thought of you biting your cheek until it bleeds just breaks my heart. I would like you to be free to do whatever it is you need to do to manage without having to hide it. I am aware that a few students in my classes are probably on the spectrum, or at least under the pdd umbrella, but none has told me so and I haven’t been informed by the dean that they need special accommodation. It makes me wonder who all might be biting their cheeks as the fluorescent lights buzz or the projector sits on standby. I hope the day will come soon when we will all let you out yourself w/o fear.

    • Thanks, Megan. I think the situation would be different in K-12 versus my PhD program – the professor is more of a colleague, except he has the power to completely ruin any professional career I might have… I think he’s figured out something’s “different” about me, but past that, I don’t think it needs a name… at least not yet.

      Thanks for your comment! I too hope the day will soon come when we can all say “I’m Autistic” without fear of destruction…

  20. Merci !! thank you so much for this post. Reading it I immediately thought : this is torture.This is soooo wrong that you feel you have to hide how bad you feel and no one there to help you!! this is *wrong*, this is 2013! NO ONE should be tortured that way,because feeling pain and feeling forced to hide the pain *at the same time* is worse than torture. Please know that at least a woman, somewhere in France (and many many others I’m sure), is angry about the situation and would like to help.

  21. Autism is something that you don’t need to hide. I think it is something that if it’s managed well, you can do as good a job, if not better than your NT peers. You just got to find what works for you. Understand yourself well (and by a brief glance at your blogs… I think you have) and seek some professional help if needed.

  22. I will add to my earlier comment- Feel free to bounce off coping strategy ideas to me if you think you may encounter some potential stressful situations in the future. I am there for you. 🙂

    One thing I have been teaching OT professionals I come across is to teach individuals with autism how to self manage their symptoms appropriately (including socially appropriate). I self taught myself this- as I did this as if I were a client that I see some day. So, the OT me will give suggestions and the aspie me will try the suggestions out. Over time, I have mastered the skill. The reason I did this is that I know my OT is not there with me 24/7. Sure, I have my OT peers to ask questions, too. But, I feel that the fact that I can find my own answers will allow me to find solutions for other people in your shoes… and eventually teach them how to self manage appropriately.

    You may think, “Oh… because you are an OT professional, of course you can do that easier than the rest of us.” But, the fact of the matter is, I used the same autism traits and I just put that into constructive use. When I walk into an environment, I always like to do a quick assessment of it before I am doing the task at hand. Then, coupled with what I know works for me, I can come up with a plan A, B, and C within a minute or two. Finally, I then think of what might be appropriate for me to do in these situations and related social scripts. While the last part maybe is a little hard, but I think it’s a 3 course plan that a lot of individuals with autism can learn.

  23. When I was a kid I’d set my clock-radio/alarm to the radio setting with the volume turned all the way down. For my sensitive ears, the speaker hum was enough to wake me up.

    Since I moved out of the city about 10 years ago I’ve been having problems with insect noises. I always hated the late summer/fall insects as a kid (crickets etc). But where I am now the katydids are both high-pitched and deafeningly loud — 80+ db each! One got into my workplace and I thought the Coke machine was about to explode. (And their breeding seasons can extend over 6-8 weeks over various species.)

    I’m dreading this season, since reports are that swarms of 17-year cicadas will emerge (Brood II, which runs along northeastern US from N. Carolina northward to New York and Connecticut: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magicicada.)

    Hopefully the earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones will be enough during the two weeks of cicada mating season. Cringe.

    • my goodness, that sounds miserable! I hope you make it through that ok! Cicadas are awful…


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