People who have Asperger's Syndrome are REALLLLLLLY sensitive to everything. This can be a good thing sometimes, because they are more aware of things. (Like, they can tell you if the phone is ringing, and you may not have known!)
The downside is that it's very very distracting. I feel like the princess and the pea sometimes. Yes, I CAN feel that pea underneath all those mattresses, and I CAN'T SLEEP!
All of this is so stressful that it can lead to panic attacks. If you ever see someone hyperventilating, give them some space. It's exhausting.
Some days are better than others.
A good example of experiencing hypersensitivity, for an average person would be:
You're driving down a multi-lane highway at 75 mph with lots of intersections, all the windows down, it's pouring rain, the radio is on full blast, there are crazy drivers all around you, you are running late, you are lost, the sun is in your eyes, you just passed a truck that kicked up dust all around, and there are sirens coming from somewhere you can't tell. With a passenger talking to you.
Yeah, try and have a conversation with all of that. Sounds a little over the top? That's why I have panic attacks.
Now, you may just say "Well, I'd turn off the radio, slow down or pull over, roll up the windows, put on sunglasses, and tell the passenger to shut up." But imagine if you couldn't do that? Any of it? Or maybe you can do one of those things (yeah, I'd pull over too.) But you HAVE to deal with the rest. It's stressful, and overwhelming. And it's my daily life.
Do not touch someone with Asperger's. This is a general rule. (I personally don't like people to touch my hair, or anywhere on my head.) You know that tag on the back of your shirt? I have ALWAYS had to cut off mine. It's just too itchy. And that rock that finds its way into your shoe? ARGH. It's just so annoying, I have to stop right away and get it out.
My ears are so in tune. I can hear my phone ringing from across my house in my room, with my door closed, and with my sound soother on high. (It's a reallllly annoying ring, too.) I can't STAND the vacuum. To me, it sounds like nails on a chalkboard. (I get a wince from EVERYONE I explain that to.) Yes, I can wear ear plugs, and I do. That doesn't block out all the noise though. I can hear those really high pitched tones that computers make, but I've grown used to it overtime. Older computers are terrible though. I have to listen to music and my sound soother to get to sleep. I hear almost every step someone takes. And I don't mean to, but I can hear every word people say. This doesn't mean that I have comprehended it though. It just means that I NOTICE the VOICES of people.
People call me a bloodhound. Really! And it's because I have the most acute sense of smell.
Cigarette smoke is the worst. It makes my eyes water, and I will throw up if I am around it for too long. I can smell it from literally at least a few houses down, and much further if the wind is blowing. I have to drive with my windows up and my air on "recycle" so that I don't catch of whiff from people smoking in their cars on the road. Because yes, I CAN smell it. Please people, it's unhealthy and it hurts me. Quit, if you can. Or at least keep your cigarette in your car. Don't tell me it's disgusting to keep that window up, because it's just as unhealthy, and if you think THAT is gross, then you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.
That smell of sharpie markers? PHEW!!!!!!! I can still smell it on the paper after DAYS.
The good news is that I've taken this "gift of sniff" and used it for good. I once was able to tell my parents that there was a smell of oil in our basement. It turned out that a tiny bit had leaked out of our furnace because something hadn't been tightened all the way. But my parents wouldn't have even known there was a problem until maybe too late.
I've always hoped that someday, I may save something, or even someone, by smelling the smoke from a fire. Because I would bet that I could smell it way before any smoke detector went off.
Okay, so sight tends to be more of a problem in terms of focus. As in, too many things moving around or flashing can be over-stimulating. But I've noticed that I'm a little more sensitive to bright lights, and some colors. (I seem to have an aversion to the color hot pink- sorry hot pink lovers.) But I can also pick up more details. Have you ever noticed the light reflecting off of ice skates? Sometimes the problem is just that the visual field is too busy. Trying to read a book with no breaks in it is overwhelming. Things need to be broken down, into steps. Baby steps. Half baby-steps. Other times I miss details because other senses are overloaded. It's hard to take in too much at once, and basically, that goes for vision too.
So I finally figured out what's going on with my eating. The following paragraph is a blog post that I wrote about it. The paragraph after that is what I had under this section previously.
For the first time yesterday, someone from my autism services validated my issue with eating. They confirmed with me that I am NOT just being a picky eater. They explained that they've experienced the same issues with others on the spectrum them have worked with. They even told me that they know someone who thinks they are malnourished due to the issue. Finally. Someone who understands that it's NOT that I don't have the money. It's NOT that I don't LIKE the food. It's NOT that I'm not HUNGRY enough. It's that I literally CAN'T eat. People think "Oh well. If they don't want to eat, they don't have to eat. They will eat when their body is hungry enough for it." Those people are wrong. I have gotten to the point where I get so shaky and so light-headed that I think I will pass out. I STILL cannot eat. It's not medication. It's not that I'm picky. It's not JUST a sensory issue. It's something else. I get to a point where I can't even eat my favorite foods in the world. Apparently, this may have something to due with the Autism. And apparently, it doesn't effect everyone on the spectrum, which makes it SO hard to recognize in people. I finally feel like someone has heard me about this issue and cares. Finally. [Note, for a better idea of what I go through, imagine you need to go to bed, but you are hungry. All you have to eat is your least favorite food. Add in a really bad stomach illness. (Like, you will puke if you put something in your mouth.) THAT'S what it's like. You are hungry, you WANT to eat, but your body rejects it.) ]
I'm only adding this one because it IS a sense. Basically, with taste, I tend to be a picky eater. The good news is that I'm still pretty easy to please, because I know what I like. I tend to eat the same things. The bad news is, I will ONLY eat THESE things, and I will gag if I try to eat anything else. The other GOOD news, is that I DO branch out and try new things (if they smell good enough), and that sometimes I can be flexible with the foods I eat. (Yogurt - smooth? light? sure! Butter or margarine? Either!) Usually I'm just flexible with who MAKES my plain cheeseburger (NOTHING else on it but a burger, bun, and American cheese) So really, I have a broad menu of very specific meals. I don't know too much about other people who have Asperger's and THEIR eating habits, though. The other thing with eating is that texture is involved.
This is a different type of sensitivity all together, but it still is something I tend to be sensitive to. I'm the type of person who will feel bad even if I am not the guilty one. Please have optimism and positivity when you are around me! (Unless I'm venting. Then I need to hear how TERRIBLE things are.)