***WARNING- This post is long ***
Yeah, about that title! I’m sure that I shared this before, but I’m going to share it again- I don’t like crying in public. Well, let me correct that. I didn’t used to like crying in public. After today, it doesn’t bother me. Part of what changed is that I’m coming into my own. I’ve been going through an awakening. I see more, I feel more, and I have been sharing more. I’ve gotten more in touch with my feelings. So, things that used to bother me, don’t bother me anymore.
Now, about the “Undiagnosed Autistic Me part” ?!?! Well, although I’ve never been formally diagnosed with autism, I have so many of the symptoms that I identify as a person on the spectrum. So, I mention this because, for my Autism class today, I watched The Temple Grandin movie the last night of my class. I was so moved that I cried in class. Usually this would have embarrassed me to no end, but last night was different. I explain it all in my reflection in which I had to write an answer to this reflection question: “Discuss a time when someone you know exhibited sensory processing disorder. Identify what sensory differences he/she may have displayed.”
The person I chose was myself because I have sensory processing issues. I sometimes get overwhelmed, especially if I’m having a bad day.
Here’s my reflection:
Sensory processing disorder is defined as the inability to modulate, discriminate, coordinate, or organize sensations effectively.” The key word is effectively. I’m usually overloaded by tactile, visual, and auditory sensations. During the times that I am overloaded, I feel weak and attacked by life. All my life, I’ve felt odd and that something was wrong with me. I was nothing like my brothers and sisters. Everything seemed to bother me. I couldn’t seem to deal with the outside world. I avoided the outside because everything was too loud. No one else seemed to hear the planes flying overhead or the cars passing by. Maybe that’s why I used to escape into books and writing.
Even now, to this day, 4:30 a.m. is one of my favorites times of day because there are very few cars on the road, very few people moving around, and so little noise. I love it. It’s during this time that I feel at peace. When my children were little, that was also my favorite time to clean. It was a precious 2 hours before everyone was up and moving around; before the world came alive. Once the world “woke up”, my peace usually disappeared.
Another time when I was in sensory overload was when I was in a crowd of people at the annual Taste of Soul Food Festival in L.A. I was trapped and frozen and was unable to move or escape. My senses were completely overwhelmed. I could smell every little smell and it seemed like I could hear every person talking. I was completely overwhelmed and nearly had a panic attack. I thought that I was overreacting until I found out that there were nearly 100,000 people in attendance throughout the day.Thankfully my husband was there to calm me down. Ever since then, I avoid large crowds of people.
During the reading, the following quote stuck out so profoundly to me because it tells my story. It states, “However, some individuals with ASD find these experiences overwhelming, others may not even take notice of them, and still some may struggle with feeling overly sensitive to these activities on some days and under-sensitive on other days. Abnormalities in processing incoming sensations such as light, sound, touch, taste, pain, smell, movement, or temperature are reportedly experienced by 70-95% of the ASD population (Case-Smith & Arbeson, 2008; Harrison & Hare, 2004; Myles, Cook, Miller, Rinner, & Robbins, 2000). In some, the differences affect only one sensory area, while in others multiple senses are impacted.”
If this doesn’t describe me, I don’t know what. Even though I have not been formally diagnosed with ASD, I identify as one on the spectrum. I especially identify as one with sensory processing disorder. Getting overloaded used to happen on a regular basis. During those times, I stayed in the house. I wish I would have been able to identify it much earlier because I feel that having SPD affected my quality of life when I was younger. I can’t fix the past, but, moving forward, I can help others I encounter learn to deal with it.