What does heightened sensitivity mean to an Aspie?

Potographer Michael Bromage
Potographer Michael Bromage

By Sir Ashley Smith

Textures, taste and touch; all the fantastic things about being autistic – or is it?

One thing people know firstly about Aspie’s is that we are either disruptive or out of place or routine or sensitive; now let’s stop and think about that – sensitive.

Usually that means senses, doesn’t it?

I’m sorry but far too many people look at things like temper tantrums and being out of whack as being naughty or just that: a temper tantrum, for the sake of being a little or big, in my case, bugger of a child!

What if there’s actually more to it?

Understand that for starters, our senses – all of them – are heightened. When I walk I can hear the wind, well you can too, but I ear every branch, every leaf, every bird individually, and every car motor and that may sound awesome, but try having all of those sounds happening intensely at the same time, not so fun or cool anymore is it!

That’s just sound, there’s also sight, well that’s a fun one; sensitivity to light, like the wind I described, is pretty much the same with sight; we see every leaf and branch and bird color etc., uniquely and separate instead of just a whole picture.

Again this is cool until it’s all at once – throw in the cars and the wind and everything else – we live this!

I find texture strange as well, mostly it’s related to food and drink, but to keep relevance, (going for a walk in everyday life), the texture of the bark on a tree or the delicacy of a flower.

So I pop in my earphones and away I go, whatever music I like to suit my mood and a brisk walk, I can still hear most of what’s going on, it’s just drowned out by Linkin Park or Good Charlotte or whatever music is going on at the time.

Here’s an interesting fun fact that I bet you haven’t thought of yet…

I’m just been talking about a walk through a park or down the street!

Now, imagine everything I just spoke about and throw all of that happening at the same time in with a crowd of people!

Let’s do the shop for example:

• The checkouts are beeping,
• People are talking,
• You’re made to hold a cold steel trolley and not allowed to touch all the colourful packets of things which clearly have different textures and I’m curious as hell to know what it is…

…I’ll let you in on a secret – I secretly still will pick up an item in a supermarket and pretend like I have an interest in buying it, just so I can know what the texture is like. I’m bad for it in K-Mart with the furry pillows!

Back on track:

Noise, beeping, cold steel, people talking and made to walk down isles of random things, bored and destructive thoughts at best, then some idiot goes and steals something and of course the lady has to run them back through to make them beep a few times to prove it!

Well, it’s on! If extended sharp noise happens it hurts, makes our brain malfunction and we can no longer cope and anxiety kicks in!

It’s just something different to think about before you judge the next mother with her children in a supermarket!

Originally Published 20 Sep 2014. Townsville City QLD 4810
Edited By: ABC Open
Written By: Sir Ashley Smith
Source: https://open.abc.net.au/explore/78792

Sir Ashley Smith is a photographer who resides in Queensland, Australia. He is writing a book of short stories about his Aspie experiences.

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