How a man on the Spectrum learns to live

Posts tagged ‘Sensory Overload’

To Sense it All

Let me tell you about a practice I’ve done for several years now.  Even though it may seem mundane to some people, I take the time to remember how fortunate I am to have all five of my senses.  I’m grateful for the ability to possess them as well as perhaps a sixth sense that tunes me into the intangibles of life that can only be discerned by the human soul.

Now let me ask you; have you ever taken time to get in touch with your senses?  Have you ever wished you could forget something you sensed?  Could you endure being born with heightened senses bombarding your brain with massive sensory overload?

For me, the answers are all “yes”.  Dealing with differences in sensory perception is something constant for a person on the Autism Spectrum.  You may even be aware of the problems that parents of Aspie children have with their children being so sensitive to things like extreme temperatures and loud noises or bright lights.  My own problems were not as pronounced, but they did happen.

When I was very young, my most pronounced sensitivity was to loud sounds.  Most kids on the Spectrum have something that they are exclusively interested in; for me it was trains.  The only problem was that I was also afraid of the loud horn on a locomotive.  I would freak out when a train was leaving, but that’s not the only noise that used to upset me.

I’ve spoken to my parents about how their voices used to sound so loud when they got into discussions with each other or with me.  The truth is that most of the time, they were speaking in normal tones, even when they disagreed, but my hearing is hypersensitive and I perceived it as shouting.

I’ve also been told that I have a higher pain threshold.  I know my body best, and I feel that it boils down to an extra helping of willpower that I was born with.  I guess when you’re born with autism, you can learn to develop a thick skin somewhere in your life.  I’m not saying that I can control my nerve receptors, but when it comes right down to it, I can take the pain in certain situations.

As far as my sensory abilities today, I’ve learned to live with them after counseling.  By using different practices of prayer and meditation, I’ve been able control how I receive information in my brain and how I react to it.  I was also blessed to learn about several human interest stories involving loss of senses.

What I remember most is feeling sympathy for those who lost one or more of their senses in accidents; it made me look at them in a whole new way. The end result was a stronger gratitude for what I have, and a reconciliation with past traumatic events that were an assault on my senses.

Every so often I use a moment of calm to reflect and be grateful for the control and perception of my senses.  By doing so, I strengthen the links between information and memory.  What I know for sure is that this practice serves me well; I break it down this way.

To be able to have healthy, functioning eyes is a blessing.  I wear contact lenses daily; sometimes I choose to wear my wire-rim glasses.  Still, no matter what I use, I am grateful that I have sight, because there are those in this world who do not have it.  I am blessed to be a human who is visually capable.

When I smell something, it connects to my sense of well-being.  I recently learned that taste can be compromised when smell is affected.  Ah, the aromas of personal fragrances and food that I enjoy eating…I never stop counting this blessing.

To really taste, is something that may be forgotten in everyday life.  However, I’ve used my sense of taste to appreciate my food more as part of my lifelong mission to live a long life without health issues such as the ones that have plagued my family.  To really savor each individual flavor is what helps me to enjoy what I eat and consequently I need less of it to be nourished and satisfied.

Even though most of my sensory traumas were related to sound, hearing has proved to be the most integral part of my healing process.  To have great hearing, is a sense that I cannot live without.  Hearing has given me the ability to sing and listen to every note, every harmony, and every instrument in a song.  The sounds of music, and the way it moves me internally is something that has been a part of my life since I was born.  I am blessed to be able to use my hearing to listen to the music of the world, and I let the world know that I am listening.

I use my sense of touch to carefully measure out the textures of objects and discern what feelings they elicit from me.  It is a really complex system of nerves inside the human body, and the way it transmits those textures to the brain is always fascinating to me.  I put that feeling into practice every time I touch something out of need or curiosity.

I believe that a sixth sense really does exist.  To me, it’s almost like a combination of spirituality and my artistic feeling from having a background in the creative and performing arts.  I feel it every time I see what is created around me, and when I meet other artists in different fields.  A more recent example is the satisfaction I get every time I complete a blog post and publish it after careful editing.

To have the sensory abilities that I have today is a blessing.  The traumas of my past no longer have me wanting to forget what I witnessed or needing to numb myself with addictive behavior.  I recognize that every experience has meaning, even when it feels negative at first.  It has taken a long time for me to find this balance, but for someone on the Autism Spectrum, I believe that the feeling is worth the wait.

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