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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Another Sensory Episode

One of my favorite things in life is to try new things. Wait a sec, that's not right. Let me try that again. One of my favorite things in life is to try new pizza places. After trying two places during the week that were decent but nothing super I went to Google and did a search for, "Best pizza in Vancouver" and since the #2 place wasn't all that great I decided that #3 would surely be better.

Rob, Travis, and myself made the 20 minute or so trip to this place and we walked in, made our order, and sat down. A couple things struck me as we sat down; one was that 90% of places in Vancouver sell soda by the can and the fountain concept isn't as prevalent as it is in Amercia. Secondly, 110% of televisions on in businesses air whatever hockey is currently being televised.

The pizza came out and it was as close to the best pizza in North America as I've tasted. There's this place in downtown Saint Louis that I discovered while I had jury duty to which all other pizzas are compared to and this was close. Really close.

As with yesterday's post, I'm not here to bore you with details of an irrelevant dinner. Of course there is more to this story.

Travis, Rob, and I had now spent the whole day doing things and I felt about as normal as normal can get. This was a supremely foreign thing for me. I even thought this in my head as to just how normal I felt. Then, it happened.

A few minutes after we arrived a group of six sat down beside us. Our pizza came out then and there were several, of what I like to call, "aggressive eaters" within that group. What is an aggressive eater? An aggressive eater is one who puts enough force within the utensils to make a screeching noise. I don't think anyone likes this noise, but to me it is downright painful.

As with yesterday's story, I was in mid-sentence when the loudest of loud screeches took place. Again, Rob would tell me later that I once again had my muscles clinch up. The story yesterday had to do with being touched but this was noise and the results were even worse.

The noise came and then it was gone, but for a several seconds afterwards the noise reverberated within my brain. I lost my train of thought as that all too familiar sensation of sheer panic raced through my body. Just as I came back around and had my composure the screech came back.

Screech.

Screech.

SCREECH!!!

Each time this happened felt like a stab wound in the gut. My conscious mind kept telling me that there was nothing to worry about. The response however couldn't be stopped. It was like having a war with my senses because the response was of one of panic yet I knew there was nothing to worry about.

It kept going on and on and Travis, who could see my distress, asked, "Do you want to go outside?" I fought through it though and I'm not sure why, but I wasn't going to get up because of a simple noise. I probably should have though.

I tend to have hyper-sensitive hearing and there were times I'd react to the noise and Rob would say, "Wow, I didn't even hear it that time." From that line I realized that I wasn't hiding my reactions all that well, but then again how could I? I don't know if I can put into proper words just how fast the adrenaline flows when that noise is heard. It isn't a slow escalation but rather my body goes into instant panic/pain mode.

One thing I find interesting is that my reaction to the screech is worse now than it used to be. As I moved out from home in 2011 my dad had started to become a screecher when eating and it did bother me, but now the reactions within my body seem to be much higher than the used to be and I don't know why. Is it stress? Is it that I'm older? Whatever it is I'm not sure but my tolerance for that frequency of noise is now non-existent.

I find it odd how something so small can have such a painful effect on my body. Unless you've experienced it I don't know if my words can have the multiple dimensions in terms of letting you understand what it is like. I can explain "positional warfare" and I can explain, "social anxiety" but how can I put it in a way that a simple noise makes my entire body hurt? How can I put it that a noise derails all the thoughts I have and makes me want to run from the noise as if the sound is lethal in nature? The only thing I can do is what I've done and that is try. I also want to state that not everyone is going to have this aversion to noise, but it is something to be on the lookout for and if you see it I hope you remember this. What to you, may just be a one-dimensional problem could be, for us on the autism spectrum, a multi-dimensional sensory nightmare and telling me to simply, "get over it" will do no good at all. It isn't a choice! I know that there shouldn't be a reaction but there is, and that reaction can become more overwhelming than anything you could imagine,

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