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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Sensory Episode

Last week I had the chance to meet one of the employees of the Canucks Autism Network. A few days prior I had dropped off a copy of my book for their library and then I had a chance of Friday to take a tour of the place and then meet with Emily, their Coordinator of Community Programs. On the tour I met with a few other employees and then we went to get some hot chocolate to further discuss who they are and what they do as well as stating who I am and what I do in Saint Louis. Of course, if I'm blogging about an event as routine as a meeting then that means it is anything but routine.

At the hot chocolate place  I was asked several questions and I explained what I do with presenting to police officers to which Emily thought was amazing. I was then given some of their handouts and all of it looked highly impressive. I started out slow as Rob and his dad were also there and getting into my "Alias" mode was difficult but eventually I hit my stride. It felt awesome, but then it happened.

I don't know what story or what point I was on but I was looking out the window just to right of Emily when I felt a bump on my back. This bump became stronger and stronger and it was no longer a bump but rather a constant pressure. In my mind I didn't know what was going on and then the panic set in and I froze.

This isn't the first time a bump on the back happened to me, but it is the first time I was in the middle of a sentence. Now, when I say I froze, the reason for this was that every single ounce of my being was scared and ready for the unfathomable to happen. The sensation I can describe is that of falling at an extreme speed. It wasn't just a feeling in my brain, but my entire body had this awful sensation to it.

For myself time ceased; what I was saying didn't matter and for what it was worth I forgot what I was saying. I wanted to scream but nothing came out. Then, a person walked past me and is backpack came up my shoulder and down my arm. I was in a daze and couldn't really put it all together that the aisle way was thin and it was this guy's backpack which had pressed on my back while he tried to walk past.

The daze continued as I just stared off to nowhere and I tried to regain control of my body. I felt horrible in two ways. One was the physical aspect which I mentioned. The second was the fact that I knew that I had become a person frozen in time and those around me just looked at me. I thought I did a good job trying to hide how I felt but Rob would later tell me it looked as if every single one of my muscles had clinched as hard as they could. This was news to me as I never had it explained to me what one of these episodes looked like.

Again, my concept of time was gone so I do not know how long I stayed staring off at space but I wanted to say something so I tried to think about what I was saying and it just simply wasn't there. I then felt a sense of relief because, of all times for this happen, wasn't this one of the best? Rob was there, his dad was there, and a person in the field of raising the awareness and understanding of autism in BC was there. Knowing this helped the process of regaining my composure and I think my first words were, "Yeah, um, what was I saying?"

This is one of the major fears that I have; that of having everything going just normal then one event happens and then my body goes into full defense mode.

It took several minutes but I eventually came back to my "Alias" mode and the meeting went on without any more taps on the back. When we walked back to their offices I handed Emily one of my DVD's to place in their library as well because I'm not sure when I will be back in Vancouver and after such an episode that I went through I wanted to be able to tell my story to everyone. Since that isn't possible I did the next best thing and donated a DVD.

So that was another story from my trip in Vancouver. The sensory events weren't over though and that will be tomorrow's story.

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