• TaliaGrace

Life on the Spectrum

I got diagnosed as a high functioning autistic much later then most people. The diagnosis didn't bother me in the slightest. The most common question I get is "how does it affect you?" and it is the most frustrating and difficult question to answer because the fact is, I've lived my whole life in my own brain. I don't know how my daily experiences compare to other people's experiences because I have no frame of reference. All I can make note of are the handful of symptoms that I find can be absolutely debilitating and I think are worth noting here.

1. Heightened senses.

Touch: I can think of multiple kitchen utensils I refuse to touch because I can't take the feel of them on my skin. If my skin is not moisturized then it will stop me from touching just about anything. Also, if i see something that looks like its fuzzy or has a cool texture, you better believe I'll go out of my way to feel it.

Scents: This one is very frustrating. If I smell gum of any type, I will hold my breath or breathe through my scarf until it's gone. This isn't just the case for smells I don't like, if I'm too close to anyone I don't know, I do my best to avoid taking deep breaths. I don't really know why, but it's just a thing I do. This makes public transit very difficult.

Sound: If someone cracks their knuckles, there is a very high probability I will lose my cool. I have walked out of class on multiple occasions as a result of this, have been reduced to tears on more then one occasion. It's not just specific sounds though, I basically hate any place that's loud, and my standards for loud are much lower then most people's. I've been overwhelmed in coffee shops,. My friends are great about this, whenever they see I'm getting overwhelmed we always go somewhere else. At this point, I usually just have people over to my place, it's easier and equally as fun (and cheaper). Locker rooms are brutal for this because everything echos. If someone is singing in the shower or even just having a conversation, it's upsetting. I'll get very overstimulated, my heart starts racing, so I wash up and put my noise cancelling headphones in as quickly as possible. These are most of the main examples.

Taste: Toothpaste, I HATE mint; I can't stand the taste any more then the smell. I use a toothpaste off of Amazon that was made for people on the spectrum that can't take strong flavours. I also use a different type of mouthwash for the same reason. As for food, everyone has foods that they don't like, I've always been an extremely picky eater. I don't like any strong tastes (other then maybe lots of garlic). I really don't like eating out much unless I know the restaurant or the menu is basic stuff like pasta a soups. I absolutely just can't take the textures of some foods without gagging such as: mushrooms, shrimp, raisins, countless others but mostly those.

Sight: This can usually be solved by sunglasses, but not always. I can't use the computers at my school after it gets dark outside because the lighting inside many of the buildings is horrible and and I can't adjust the brightness on the screen. Sight though is the most manageable by far in my case.

Need for Routine:

The best way to send me into a spiral is to try to make plans less then 3 days ahead of time. I have my plan, I have my routines, disruption will send me into a frenzy. I'm getting better at dealing with disruptions but there's almost always an hour or two of chronic stress, and then another few hours to recover from the chronic stress. It's a process.

I could go on for a long time but I think most of the essentials are covered here. If you're friends with someone on the spectrum, just be self aware and compassionate about what they may be dealing with if/when they're stressed.

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