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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Did I or Did I Not?

Over the course of my blog I've explained several times about sensory issues and the way everything in a room is heard all at once at the same levels. This can make greetings awkward as often times I'm unsure if I heard my name or not, and if so, where it came from. Yesterday this not only happened once, but twice.

The first was at a presentation yesterday morning. I was a little early so I was apprehensive on whether or not to approach the podium where the lady who was putting this on was. Now, it is important to note that when my mind is worried about something, or thinking about something, this whole hearing everything in a room becomes worse. Instead of hearing words it all becomes noise lost within my thoughts which are so loud it drowns everything else out.

Eventually, after trying to look occupied staring at my cell phone, I went in and approached the podium where the lady looked as if she was having computer issues so I stood, silently, awaiting some form of contact. Since I was 100% sure she was the one in charge (she could have been another speaker) I stood waiting for her move. This is a good time to mention my chess concept that I often play as black because in chess white always goes first and there's a big sense of safety reacting to a situation instead of initiating it.

I stood, and I stood, and my brain was now a object reaching terminal velocity in panic wondering what, if anything, I should say. I glanced down for a brief second and then I heard, what I thought, was my name, but where did it come from? I glanced over my left shoulder, then right, and I brushed it off as if I imagined it then the lady right in front of me said hello again and, well, I felt really awful because I missed out on the person directly in front of me saying hello to me but I was so flustered that I missed out on something so obvious.

After my presentation I went to the office and later that afternoon, as I was leaving, I was planning this blog in my head and as I got to the exit I once again thought I heard my name. I looked behind myself to see four people standing and they were sort of looking my way so I could not tell if I actually heard my name or not so I just left. Whether or not that was rude I am unsure because I am unsure if I even heard my name.

This "did I/did I not?" happens more frequently when my brain is thinking or worrying about something or if it is a noisy environment. Then, if I heard something that might have been my name, the whole processing bit kicks it up yet another notch as I try to piece together what I just heard which means I may actually miss my name a second time because I'm so busy trying to figure out if I heard it the first time. And then, obviously, if a conversation is started the awkwardness will remain as I worry on how angry the other person is for my lack of social awareness.

So all this being said, if you know a person on the autism spectrum and you do say hello, or another common greeting, and you don't get a reply it may not be because they are ignoring you but rather it could've been lost to the other noises in the room, or they could be in deep thought about something (like a blog in my case) or maybe they are trying to figure out if they did or did not just hear their name.

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