I’m a SUPER FREAK this morning. I am pretty sure my youngest has restless leg syndrome. And he definitely talks, moans, and moves a whole lot in his sleep. Oh, yes…..traveling once again, and so very much reminded of my human condition. This time an eleven hour drive to California with my three boys, ages ten, thirteen, and fourteen…..oh boy! Literally!
Just pulled this writing up from early May 2012. Today, again, having slept in a hotel (sigh) I am dealing with much overload, lack of sleep, exhaustion, and grumpiness. Hope to have a happier disposition tomorrow after a decent night’s sleep. If you see a woman having a meltdown on the side of Highway 5 in California…that would be super freak me!
On the first day of our trip to the Island of Maui, I was reminded of my over sensitive system. I hadn’t imagined the plane fight would be such an unpleasant experience. I’d forgotten, or more likely, I’d hoped for change.
Many people with Aspergers, if not all, are extremely sensitive. They feel emotions and feelings in great depth. Likewise, their senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell are very acute. Often, a person experiences sensory overload when he or she is outside his everyday environment. In some cases, home or perhaps nature, are the only places that are tolerable to the senses. Outside of the comfort zone, a person with Aspergers can likely feel an overwhelming degree of agitation, pain, and misery. This is one of the reasons I prefer to spend more time at home than in public places. Sensory overload can lead to meltdowns—which are akin to adult tantrums—a screaming out for help, when one does not know how to help one’s self.
In considering sound, where many people can block out background noise and focus without distraction, people with sensory sensitivities hear everything at once. There is no mute button. And there is no making the noise stop, beyond earplugs and escape.
The other senses work the same. Textures irritate. Smells overwhelm and overtake. Sights hurt. And even the taste of air is unpleasant.
It appears there is something about the Asperger’s sensory and processing system that cause people to sense things in the environment in segmented over-exaggerated parts, instead of whole. Instead of looking upon a crowd and seeing a crowd, one looks upon a multitude of bombarding shapes and sizes, each movement as uncomfortable to view as the next.
People with sensory sensitivities are acutely aware of everything happening in their environment and everything seems to be occurring all at once. There isn’t release. What would be a soft unnoticeable hum to one becomes a piercing roar to the other. It is as if someone has turned up the volume of every single sensory organ.
There is no relaxation, only the constant stream of shards—parts of chatter, parts of the ticking clock, parts of the rattling and hum. There are parts of smells, all sorted out and classified, not mingled, not forgotten. There are parts of tastes—the breath, the air, the fragrances, the poisons chemicals. Sights are in parts. Fragmented pieces that attempt to make a whole, but fail. A face not remembered except as shape of wrinkled wide nose and color of dark narrow eyes. Even the mind is in parts, continually breaking down wholes to subsections. Whole to parts is easy. Parts to whole is hard. Nothing is as it appears. Everything is in parts. It is the parts that bring agony, the endless parts that bring with them the impossibility of finding retreat in the whole.
With my sensory sensitivities, the six-hour ride in the airplane to Maui was torturous. No mind control, mantras, visualization, or distractions could stop the parts. And lacking the ability to help myself, sank me into self-blame. I sat in misery wishing to time travel into sweet oblivion. I became depleted, agitated, and depressed. Meltdown was avoided, but angry eyes prevailed.
The worst was the piercing babies’ cries. There were at least ten babies on the plane. There wasn’t a time when one wasn’t screaming.
I did find refuge. I had my words. I could write. I could escape through the process of creating images, feelings, and thoughts into story. Words were my parachute and freedom, a passport away from the screaming shards.
Cry from the Sky
Roots into ear
Crumpling, tearing, crackling paper
The rhythmic off beat dance murdering peace
Opening cans, clanging carts, annoying repetitive footsteps
Bumping in front, bumping in back
An uninvited rollercoaster
The babies scream and scream again
Constant chatter, whispers, sighs
Conversations bleed into a monster of noise
Roaring engine rattles fury
Even the yawns scream
Squishing and swishing misshapen bodies
One hundred meals at once
Beyond window, the fresh and silence beckons
A tease of the unattainable
Aches, irritations, stiffness, icy cold
More bumping, more banging
Nothing is calm
Nothing is motionless
Everything in parts
One broken into a thousand
Question after question
Comment after comment
Trapped in stinging air
Recycled germs everywhere
Breathing in danger
Stop. Shut up. Cease
Put a cork in the child’s mouth
Put a muzzle on the man
Put a mute light on
Energy spikes, energy flows, energy feeds
Energy spirals, burrows, pangs
Close the outside
Focus on inside
Focus on calm
And still the babe screams