Sensory Issues

From a brief questionnaire about sensory processing issues, I quickly observed that some of my ideas about myself and the apparent mildness of my condition were wrong. A cursory look at the results reveals that it is only mild in the vestibular, auditory (questionably), and proprioceptive areas. However, knowing this does help because I still catch myself stimming and want to switch to less noticeable stereotypies (if it is possible), but I do not know how to change specific ones. I can probably begin with the tactile stereotypies.

Apparently, I rotate anything I hold over and over when it seems appropriate in an autistic way. The stereotypy I noticed, however, was twirling my watch around the hand several times. Since these two (unless the others are hiding something from me) are acceptable enough, I can probably leave them alone. However, the stereotypy of just touching the thumb to every finger in order seems to be subtler, so I will try to use this.

Vision seems more difficult, but I unintentionally create stimulating patterns when I arrange data in tables. This seems to be easy enough, and I think I have been successful in keeping flapping restricted to my room, so this should not be much of a problem. Flicking fingers near the eyes seems to be a less tiring and more interesting one. I wonder if I should just carry something with a pleasing pattern and texture to satisfy this. Maybe if they made stress spheres (Ball? Sphere? Globe?) with linear grooves, I would be figuratively able to kill two birds with one stone.

As far as balance is concerned, I still catch myself rocking forward and backward or shifting weight left and right and generally seem to be tilted about 5 degrees forward. This will be harder to correct, but I will think of something, and it has not drawn any comment yet.

In the auditory area, I am a bit too sensitive, and I feel pain while others can continue conversations in loud situations. I do not think I stim, but I am capable of, “humming,” or, “buzzing,” at around 10 kHz (definitely at a frequency the average 30-year old cannot hear). I wonder if this counts, because this is intentional and conscious, but I experience a certain feeling when I do it, so it could be a better-regulated stereotypy of some sort. I wonder if many on the spectrum can control stereotypies in similar cases.

I recall walking/running centimeters away from walls throughout high school, but this has diminished as I became more aware of it (and carried increasingly and consequently decreasingly heavy loads, thus having more momentum, thus having more energy, and thus experiencing a stronger force when stopped). This was when I still had the mental concept of autism as something that affected other students that never seemed to grow up mentally. In hindsight, my sense of right and wrong, justice, and independence has experienced very little change in the last few years, with most of it ending as only rationalizations. However, proprioception is mostly fine (with poor handwriting but good print and frequently being clumsy).

On smell and taste, although I do seem to be overly sensitive about both (during allergy-free days), I do not think I stim with them because anytime I try to smell something, it is out of a conscious, intentional desire to know the smell. Unlike the, “buzzing,” I do not derive much, if any, emotion from this, and it seems to be little more than an instinct of some kind. I do seem to like smells most hate (disinfectants, gloves, mothballs, etc), but this is somewhat irrelevant.

In the behavioral, learning, and social issues, I seem to be worse than most. I was able to answer, “No,” only to, “Doesn’t understand concept of personal space,” and, “Frequently acts out or tantrums.” I understand personal space, and mine has a radius of approximately two yards. When I rush, I literally go out of my way to avoid people and walk through the midpoints when it is expedient to do so. On tantrums, I am usually able to calm myself by applying nail pressure to the second segment of the index finger. When I cannot do so, I leave, because most people able to anger me are the ruder ones in the first place.

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2 thoughts on “Sensory Issues

  1. I am a parent of a young boy with aspergers. I am not trying to correct any of his quirks though. instead i am embracing them. Do you think I am doing him a disservice? I marvel at him and all the things he comes up with. I have found that in many ways he ends up teaching me.

    • [I am not a parent, I am the adolescent, so there will be a bias as well as a fresh first-person perspective.]

      As long as the quirks do not cause excessive disruption or impairment, there should be no problems with leaving them alone. Provided that he learns about social conventions (social psychology makes a nice special interest, and it contains a certain element of complexity that prevents it from becoming stale) and when sarcasm is invoked, he should be able to adapt, especially if there are many opportunities in a gentle environment. By, “gentle environment,” I mean something like a school that does not condone bullying and has a generally good student body.

      As for the disservice, it should be fine as long as it will not lead to excessive negative sentiment from others. We on the spectrum are not all socially unable throughout life, and adolescence (and I presume adulthood) will often come with various methods of compensating for the deficiencies. However, if there are socially unacceptable stereotypies, I would try to change them early because they are involuntary and generally done without being realized until later.

      [However, remember that I am only an adolescent and cannot be expected to give an adult’s perspective. You might find WrongPlanet, which should appear under the header, “CIRCVLI,” to be helpful, as it has a forum for parents of children on the spectrum.]

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