Along with my Asperger’s diagnosis came the awareness of my sensory issues. Although others consider them “issues”, I like to refer to them as “super-powers”. :0)
Since my sense of hearing is what is mostly affected at this moment, I will focus on that.
OK, so music played by others is often too loud for my taste. In fact, at times, depending on the type of music, it can actually hurt my ears. But maybe that is because as I type, I can hear the electrical current running through my MacBook power cord. At the same time I can hear crickets outside, an owl in the tree across the road, my dog breathing as she sleeps, another dog barking in the distance (probably 2 blocks away), my own heart beat, two tiny gnats flying around the room (one just flew past my right ear and became very loud . . . until I smashed it - oopsie), the refrigerator recharging 2 rooms away, and the slight buzzing of the light bulbs in this room (living room) and the adjoining one. All at the same time.
I had no idea other's auditory functioning was not as “super-powered” as mine until I began doing research on what this whole “Asperger’s thing” is. When I’m alone, it does indeed feel like a super-power of sorts. I can hear a car from a long ways away which helps when I’m out for a walk to get to the opposite side of the road. I can hear if a raccoon or squirrel is in the yard – a warning not to let my dogs out. I can hear the slightest sound when I’m walking so as not to step on a tiny frog or lizard (which there are a lot of where I live!). I can hear a spider crawling on the wall or bug crawling on the floor. I can tell by the slightest “off” sound that there is something wrong with my car and can easily locate where in the engine the sound is coming from.
Where this super-ninja ability (OK, OK . . . I just took it too far) becomes an issue is when others are around. I sometimes have difficulty hearing a person talk when there are a lot of other sounds happening at once and have to ask (sometimes several times, embarrassingly) for the person to repeat what he/she just said. This can be quite annoying for someone and because I am aware of that I sometimes won’t ask and miss the opportunity to really hear that person (and feel REALLY stupid when I’m caught in the act of faking it).
INT RESTAURANT - MORNING
Blah, blah, blah blah blah. And then I found blaaah, blah.
Oh! That’s funny.
What’s funny? The Herpes or the Hepatitis C?
Oh . . . no . . . I meant . . .
Aspie Girl, red-facedly dying a slow, painful death of shame, attempts to redeem herself with terribly un-witty, improvised retort.
I can become frustrated when I hear something alarming, such as a slight sound in the garage (possibly a wild creature) and when I am with another human, they tend to step loudly, whisper, and touch things around them as they move, skewing my ability to precisely pinpoint the sound. My dogs on the other hand, will know exactly what I am doing and will actually tip toe and “slink” to hear it alongside me. When I am in the car alone, I enjoy listening to NPR or my favorite music as loud as I want, but dislike having anything playing in the car when another person is with me because then, if they speak, it is difficult for me to focus and really hear them. I dislike working on my computer when it becomes hot and the fan goes on because then I feel it is taking away from hearing the sounds I want to hear, such as the birds outside or my own thoughts. Distracting.
This “issue” has caused me to avoid people. There are certain people who are just loud—in their movements, in their voice, the way they eat—even their cars and pets are loud! You know the type—they yell "hello" from across the street and continue in the same volume when three feet away. I have a neighbor who every time he takes his classic car out, he spins it out in the drive way, screeching so loud I feel I need to duck for cover. Why?!!! What’s the point?! I’ve seen parents in stores allowing their kids to scream and yell and stomp and throw and they just push the cart by as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening. In electronic stores, they will have every television on, blaring, with different channels AND someone is testing a car audio system not too far from there AND there is “ambient” music playing in the background. Why?!
Which is why I’ve made a vow to be kind to myself. I can’t control the noise around me but I can certainly control the noise inside by utilizing that most amazing, brilliant invention - earplugs. What a gift!!!
All in all, natural sounds are fantastic – the wings of tiny hummingbirds flapping at 53 beats per second, crickets discussing the latest gossip in the insect world, the powerful ocean waves hitting the shore, the slight rustling of leaves with a passing breeze, trickling water finding pathways in which to run - which is why I choose carefully where I live and spend my time. I will never be able to completely contain the bothersome and sometimes piercing sounds, but I can be kind to me by being prepared. I may not always hear what someone is saying, but I can be kind to them and me by just being honest.
I’m not sure where my hearing abilities, super-powers if you will, could be used to save the world, but I know I’m armed and ready to fire! (Where’s that red cape? I know it’s in here somewhere . . .)
Oh ya, and by the way, that time you farted and thought I couldn't hear it because you covered it up so well with the clearing of your throat . . . you'd better guess again.
My definition of Asperger’s today: I can hear clearly now the rain is gone. ;0)