- Seminarverwaltung Support
- living with autism
what autism feels like is hard to explain as specially since my brain always worked that way
But I at least want to try to talk about why sensory overload is such a big part of it and why routine is so important if you are autistic
I want you to think of the most stressful / overwhelming situation you were last in like for example : your child in your arm crying while your food in the oven is burning, the phone and the doorbell ringing at the same time and you see that your dog is peeing all over the sofa ..
with that you probably would get stressed out, aggressive or start crying - depending on how you best deal with being overwhelmed so let’s look at why this would be a horror Szenario : because there is too many info entering your brain at once and you have to decide what to do in what order and you feel the need to respond to everything at once which of course you can’t
Also all senses are working at the same time the loud crying and bells ringing the smell of the burning food you are probably sweating from the stress and you head is spinning ...
well think about how it would be to feel that every day because this is what autism feels like for me
My senses are super sensitive and they all enter my brain at once and unfiltered 24/7 and sometimes without any rest / sleep because of my insomnia
So if I walk down a street every car passing by is ear shattering while the baking heat is making it hard to breath and the sun is blinding my eyes so I can’t even look up to see where i am going and trust me Berlin doesn’t smell good at all so I might fight the urge to gag from the dog-poop trash smell all around me as well...
So if I can’t follow a conversation because the tv is running in the background it has nothing to do with not being able to *multitask but with being unable to differ the two audio inputs in my brain so maybe if I use the word sensory overload you will better understand what that means
This is why I avoid having too much “input” around me i could never have the radio running while writing my grocery list because I probably would write down the lyrics instead ;)
I can only hope to get some rest if it’s completely dark and quiet my parents gave me a weighted blanked for my last birthday which helps a lot to calm down
So I want to try to make that loop to explain why routine is so important with that : see if your senses are overwhelming structure and routine helps to function :
If a situation is well known you don’t need to freak out about not knowing what to do in which order or what sensory input to answer first .. this is why everything I do I always do the same way - every day!
I think this is also why I sort things and everything has its place because I need that structure for orientation (This has nothing to do with **OCD what I will explain later)
It has more to do with my memory being affected by all this sensory input - it’s crazy that it works almost photographic with some parts like numbers, pictures, music, smells and so on but other parts I completely forget or can’t even store in my brain to begin with
That’s why I write everything down but checking my calendar for appointments is a thing I actively need to remember and often forget
Same goes for birthdays I do remember the numbers of it but I never know what date the day has to make the connection
I have trouble to sort my things out so don’t feel offended if I can never recall what you said about your events
It feels like storing new memories is just overwriting old once’s and i have no influence whatsoever on what stays and what goes
This is also why changes (specially last minute) are horrible if you are autistic because then you need to act spontaneously (which I am no good at) in a situation and you can’t use your preparation you worked out before hand
And yes I am able to adapt since I will learn to deal with a new situation and then repeat my actions whenever needed
But of course nothing is predictable or controllable so if i am distracted by / more interested in the light twinkling off the leaves or some ants passing on the side of the road than follow a conversation it’s because my brain just works different from yours
*the lie about multitasking :
There is no such thing as multitasking if you have to deal with more than one task at a time you simply prioritize there is literally no way to do more than one thing at a time - period !
People say women are better at multitasking than man but this isn’t true either they just choose different on what of two task has priority
I give you an example say man and woman are suppose to walk a parkour and take a phone call at the same time
Women would be involved in the conversation and might stop walking or messing up the parkour man would focus on the parkour and keep the conversation short and simple both sides can’t split the focus 50/50 they both do one more than the other it’s just a different choice
But since social interaction is better received it just seems like women are better at it
So for me being autistic I wouldn’t choose the social aspect of any task so I am considered poorly at “multitasking”
But what it feels like to have more than one thing in my head to deal with I probably understand it better than “normal” people since I am „multitasking“ ALL THE TIME!
So my need for sorting, organizing, categorizing and repeating is just an aspect of functioning with Asperger
But I did have OCD as it is a common “side effect” of being autistic
It was worst when I moved out of my parents house and had to live on my own for the first time
I was claustrophobic, obsessed with counting / repeating , washing my hands and having everything exactly geometrical and super tidy
As well as panic attacks if I couldn’t remember if I locked the door or switched off electrics or being horrified of getting sick from germs that are everywhere
I think the main difference with OCD compared to “normal autistic behavior” is that OCD is a strong force that hinders you to function instead of helping you dealing with things
You need to control everything because you can’t deal with that nothing is controllable
It was a really hard time dealing with it but I managed to get rid of most OCD-behavior on my own what's left are some „cute little quirks“ but they don’t „interfere“ with my life
Like how I have specific systems for example hanging laundry but I got a dryer now- problem solved ;)