Thursday, April 7, 2011

Trying New Things and Aaron vs. The Light

Yesterday saw two events worth writing about so it's a 2 for 1 deal on today's blog!

First off, for lunch yesterday, I went to Huddle House. This within itself is very relevant because I never saw myself going to a Huddle House. I have always been more of a Waffle House kind of guy and I have a friend who has a Xbox Gamertag of Waffle House who has said that one must claim allegiance to one or the other. Seeing that there were no Waffle Houses within walking distance of the hotel I still maintain that I broke no allegiance.

Anyway, restaurant allegiances aside, I walked in with an odd inkling; I wanted to try something new. This happens very rarely and as of late only seems to happen when I am away from home. Why is this? The answer would probably be too long for this post, but perhaps in the future I will write about it more.

So I went in wanting something new, but what to get? On top of this would I order breakfast or lunch? In my presentations I joke that I laugh at people who go into a place and not know what they are going to get, but for once I was on that side of the fence.

Because I didn't know what I was going to get I didn't know what I was going to drink. You see, if I got something breakfasty I'd have milk, and if I got something lunchy I'd get a soda. The waitresses were getting annoyed because I got asked, "Has someone got you a drink yet?" at least a dozen times and each time I mumbled something along the lines of the fact that I needed more time. They did not like this.

Eventually I settled for a Philly cheese steak sandwich. This is something I would almost never consider because it had green peppers and onions in it. For some reason though my usual loathing of this type of food wasn't there. Was it good? I don't know; I did eat it all though and didn't dislike it.

Walking out of Huddle House I felt proud of myself. It isn't very often I try something new, and while this may seem like an irrelevant event in a person's life, for me it was a major event. I try something new maybe once every nine months, and in the past month I have tried Mexican and now a Philly cheese steak sandwich.

One quick note on my deciding to try something new. On all occasions in recent memory I have tried something new when I wanted to. It has been up to me to try something new and as a child anytime I was simply forced into something new I disliked it before I tried it, if I tried it at all. I can remember eating just a few things as a child and when forced to try something I did not and yet, when my parents ate something and I could see it, and smell it, I grew curious. When I was ready I would ask, very silently as if asking for something new was conceding a defeat in a way, for a taste.

Aaron vs. The Light

Last evening I had my presentation and as soon as I walked into the room where the presentation was I saw a problem. This problem is something I have battled for many times and often times fixing the problem is much like flipping a light switch, well, that is actually the cure to this problem as the problem was a flickering fluorescent light.

I thought I would just ignore it so I set up my laptop and projector and got my PowerPoint up on the screen, but the light continued to flicker down rays of agony. It was still 30 minutes until the start so I thought I could power through it, much like I did with my headache yesterday.

As much as I tried powering through was getting me nowhere. All my attention was in tune with the disharmony of that light. Others were talking in the room and I was just transfixed on the light. I tried to look away, but I could still see the light on the ground and it was like an elaborate light show gone wrong with no order and pure chaos.

Try as I might I could no tune it out. I was worried because I did not know the solution to my problem. Well, I knew the solution but I didn't know how to carry it out. I will use my very amateurish MS Paint artwork to illustrate the room:

 The blue items are the table and screen, the green items are the tables, and the yellow and orange items represent the rows of light with the red light being the light from, well, input your own line here.

The three light switches operated each row. Only the middle bank of lights were on so, with about 10 minutes to go before the start, I slowly made my way to the light switches. Now, when I say slowly, I mean it as I was trying to look as nonchalantly as possible. As much as this was driving me up a wall I didn't want anyone to know. Even though my presentations sometimes have stories of when I needed help and I didn't ask for it I still suffer from this. My struggle was in silence and I was going to do everything I could to avoid asking for help.

After a couple minutes I made it to the light switches, but then I realized a new problem. If I am the one to throw the switch then someone, or everyone, will know I was the one who did it. I stood at those switches for a couple minutes trying to look as if everything was normal, but that was probably hard as I kept looking at the switches and the light which was still emitting chaos.

With three minutes to go until I was scheduled to begin I walked to the kitchen area, which would have been in the center of the bottom wall of my artwork of the room, and I kept trying to get the other TouchPoint staff's attention. I wanted to make this a quiet as possible as here I am, a presenter, having an issue over a flickering light. Yes, I know this reason is one of the reasons the world needs presenters like myself, but in the moment I feel sort of out of place. Like, since I am a presenter I shouldn't have an issue with something that others might not have noticed, and yet having to endure that light for almost half an hour had made me drowsy and wanting to go to sleep.

Having that constant input from that light made me feel as if I had just worked a 12 hour raceday in the middle of July with 100 degree heat. Finally I got the attention of the staff and I said, "That light has got to go!" and she walked over and turned the middle bank off and turned on the lights on the top row of my artwork. To my surprise no one was angry that this change had been made (one of my worries as to why I didn't do it myself) and thankfully the room now was much more friendly to my senses and I was able to carry on with my presentation as if no crisis had taken place.

This example will find its way into my presentations I'm sure as it is a prime example of, well, for one the potential sensory issues a person may have, but secondly the inability for self-advocacy. Had I not got the switch to be made my presentation would have been unusually choppy and much more disconnected than usual. The distraction factor would have been high and I would not have been able to say why, except maybe on here the next day.  I do know I could have instantly ended this problem, but even though I am aware of the problem finding the solution is difficult, even more so when I have to state that there is a problem or ask for help. I'm glad I did eventually state that, "the light has got to go" but so many times in my life I was not able to do this. What makes matters worse is that I then had to endure the problem I couldn't fix and then feel bad about myself afterwards because my performance in whatever I was doing was hindered because of the sensory distraction. Truly we get hit twice in a matter like this and it is something I hope, after reading this, I have explained and you have a better understanding of it now because you may never know when an issue like this arises, but if you look around the environment you may find what is causing the problem when we are going to be unable to tell you.


  1. You have a very interesting blog here. I loved this post, and seeing your different viewpoints about things like food, light, etc. Thank you very much, and if you like, click on my name to reach my autism blog.

  2. My 17 yr old loves to try new foods because, in her head, she is being WAY more adventurous than her food-fussy sister. And she brags about it too. And...Flickering lights make me feel sick!