Before I jump back into ridiculous, funny, or the usual SDL things, I wanna take a moment to discuss autism, and specifically the “tantrums” or other episodes that people with autism (including Asperger’s) sometimes have.
If you’re like me, you’ve witnessed plenty of them throughout your life. You’ll remember the time the young woman with Aspberger’s lost control of her dogs, one of which then chomped into my leg. She dropped to the ground, began rolling around in the parking lot, and screaming obscenities at me. You can read about it here, if you like. Anyway, it was so bizarre that I knew something wasn’t right, and I would find out later what her disability was.
But there were other times in life where I’ve known people have had some form of autism, and I let myself be terribly annoyed by their outbursts or tantrums which seemed to come out of nowhere. I certainly had no compassion or empathy. It was always as if whatever they were dealing with was a giant inconvenience to me and my current mode of uncomplicated awesomeness. Ain’t nobody got time for that, and all that jazz.
To each of them, and to their parents where applicable, I owe a massive apology for all the silent judgmental thoughts I often thought.
Over the last two days, I told you of the mental disorder I recently have struggled greatly with and with which I was diagnosed. Sensory Overload Disorder (SOD).
As I researched it, and researched it (and researched it) one thing popped up constantly in almost everything I read. This is one of the biggest things that people with autism (and especially Asperger’s) deal with. Constantly. And for life.
Its the exact same thing I have been going through. I mean, their triggers may be different, but it’s the same thing.
And I think it would be a disservice for me to not passionately ask everyone who reads this to try to understand what they go through by reading of my experience with it. It would be wrong of me to not ask everyone to be more understanding and less judgmental when they see it.
Sensory overload has been used as a means of torture, for crying out loud! Have you ever heard of Chinese Water Torture? Yeah. That’s just one form of it.
How can I explain it?
Imagine, if you will, one sound hitting you just wrong and knocking off your sense of actuality just a little bit. Then as you try to process why that sound didn’t hit you right, another sound hits you just wrong, which knocks you off center even more. Before long, not a single sound processes correctly, and none of it makes much sense. This chain reaction causes other sensible thoughts to short circuit. It messes with your ability to filter your words. It takes away certain social filters. It begins to feel that every sound coming from every direction is a personal attack on your mind. Before very long at all there is a war going on inside your head, and the only way to bring the mental war to an end is to erupt, which you don’t even realize you’re doing until it’s over.
Another way to think of it is like being on an icy freeway (having the disorder). Each sound is a different vehicle. One car loses control and swerves to correct. This causes another car to swerve. This in turn causes two other cars to swerve. Soon two cars bump into each other and come to a stop. Other cars, unable to stop in time, crash into the first cars. Then more. And more. And soon there is a 128 car pile-up, and the crashing doesn’t stop until it’s so out of control that a giant semi-truck slams into the back of them all and is so visible that other cars finally have a chance to see it and stop in time.
I don’t know if either of those were good analogies. I really don’t know how else to explain it, but I feel I have to try.
I wasn’t aware of this until after I knew I had SOD. Then I began being very mentally aware of the process that made my mental state spiral out of control almost every day, and it felt just like that. For me, anyway.
Sensory overload can hit different people in different senses. For many it’s touch or smell. I believe the most common is audible. Others suffer with Sensory Processing Disorder, which is very much related.
So please. Next time you see it, pretend you’re inside that beautiful person’s head, and imagine the inexplicable clash of the mental everything going on, and have some compassion. Certainly don’t ever poke fun of their condition once they’re no longer in your presence. Don’t make light of it. Whatever just happened, that person was being tortured in that moment (I assure you), and I highly doubt you would judge someone for freaking out, erupting, or acting out of desperation were they being visually tortured in front of you.
That’s all. Thank you for listening to my public be-better-humans-to-each-other announcement. Back to regular blogging tomorrow.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing