Last night the Special School District (SSD) had an Autism-Asperger-PDD Resource Fair. I was there working the TouchPoint booth and was amazed that five people knew who I was. "Hey, aren't you the guy that was seated next to Temple Grandin on the panel?" was one line I heard.
Sadly, this post isn't about starting to be recognized. At some of the booths the SSD had plates of candy. The booths next to us both had small boxes of Milk Duds and since I hadn't had a Milk Dud in at least a decade I decided I wanted some.
Moderation was not in play as I scoured the room for more. It may have been a decade, but every chance I got when the booth was empty I was making up for lost time and devouring Milk Duds.
I must have been enjoying them too much because, on what would be my final box, I bit my tongue like I have never done before. My tongue made a noise much like the crunch of eating carrots and the pain was intense. Later, when looking into a mirror, I would find out that I truly have a deep bruise on my tongue.
As painful as it was at first the pain subsided quickly (which is remarkable considering the way it looks this morning). The pain was mild and the only discomfort at all was the fact that my tongue was swollen and I could feel it pressing against my teeth. This is where the real story begins.
The room we were in wasn't that large and the room was somewhat loud. All night I had no issues with tuning the constant hum of talk out. This was up until the crunch of my tongue. After that I slowly lost the ability to tune out the noise. All at once I heard everyone at once and the noise continued to get louder and louder. Think of it like being in a car and slowly turning up the volume without stopping.
Louder, louder, and even louder the room got. The sounds of humanity quickly sounded like a raging river that not even the biggest dare devil would risk white water river rafting on.
I had never experienced this form of overload. I truly could not tune anything out and within ten minutes of this my body was exhausted. I heard dozens of people at once but could not distinguish anything. People would come up to the booth and they talked to me, but I could not hear them over the crushing volume of the room.
This had never happened to me and I am wondering if there is a connection between the bit tongue and the ability to tune out the room? I have no idea how the brain works, but because I never have had this happen, and it happened right after that lovely crunchy noise so I am wondering. I do know that I have heard stories of those on the spectrum having more severe behavior when they are ill or injured. Could the sensations of that hamper the brain's ability to tune out the world?
Of course I do not have the answer on the grand scheme of things and all I know is that last night was really difficult. I am thankful it happened because I never have felt so crushed in a room by volume. I can now empathize with those that have those issues because it was tiring, it was anxiety inducing, and most of all it was scary to hear everything at once without a filter. Yes, without a filter; I like that because last night, in that room, I lived life unfiltered and I hope I never bite my tongue again so I don't experience that ever again.