Archive for the ‘Sensory overload’ Category


Reblogged: Not-So-Retail Therapy

February 24, 2013

This post reblogs a refreshing alternative to conspicuous consumerism, and adds some of our own thoughts triggered by the reblogged post. We should all strive to evaluate our needs and wants more carefully. There is a big difference between the two. Oftentimes what we THINK we need is actually a very strong desire, but doesn’t fit into a “vital” category: food, shelter, safety, water, health.

Speaking for ourselves, we find shopping (for ourselves) to be mostly a chore or obligation, and not one that we would consider “fun” or “relaxing.”

Shopping with someone else, to assist xem in finding things xe needs, is a different story depending on the person. For instance, our sister N needed to find dress shoes to match her dress for the Inauguration Ball (her boyfriend was on Obama’s campaign staff and the Inauguration committee staff also- thats why she was able to go). I (Andrea) and our mom met her in DC and we were out for 4 hours. I was exhausted by the end of it. All for a pair of shoes. But she NEEDED them for the occasion. And I figured since I don’t get to see N much now because we live 6 hours apart, that shopping was a way to spend some sister-time together. I actually insisted that I accompany mom and N on the shopping trip, to their pleasant surprise (they both know I hate malls due to noise and crowds.)

I was certainly thankful to be OUT of the mall when we all finally finished. After that I think we had a nice meal together. Mom and N probably said something about being proud of me for braving the mall for so long. I must have thought to myself “glad to help” and “thank goodness for comfortable ear plugs!”

Shopping for pleasure, to us, is an oxymoron most of the time.

Collaborative, mostly written by Andrea, finished by Ivan in her absence

Adventures in Thanks-Living

Most folks who know me well are aware that I do not take much pleasure in shopping–especially the kind of retail shopping that involves plunking down major cash outlays for transitory and often cheaply made consumer goods. In short, I just about have to be dragged to a shopping mall.

That said, I can understand how shopping can be classed as “retail therapy.” There’s the thrill finding that seemingly perfect item to fill a need, or more likely, a want in a person’s life. I’ve been there and done that and have come to find the outcome severely lacking.

Now I practice “not-so-retail” therapy. Let me explain. As a member of The Compact, I avoid buying new items that contribute to an ever-growing waste stream and violate principles of justice and equity that I hold important.

My latest “not-so-retail” therapy sessions involved Goodwill, Staples, and Dollar Tree. Here’s the…

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This time of semester SUCKS

December 4, 2012

Lately I have been feeling very overwhelmed with shit and often I end up feeling numb. Like I don’t care about school anymore. But that is simply not true. I do care. We do care. The grinding overload, plus the seasonal depression, makes concentration very difficult to say the least. I have spent much more time than usual reading blogs, and writing my own stuff. That isn’t going to help us learn Differential Equations or Abstract Algebra. It isn’t going to get our homework done, or help us study for exams. It may even be contributing somewhat to our depression, because we read about what other advocates are doing and we feel bad about not being more involved.

The middle of November is the start of the big push until final exams. Thankfully this semester we don’t have any writing classes. I think the less than ideal way we handle the pressure is THE reason why we cannot realistically be full-time in school. We simply cannot handle all the coursework of a full load plus all the other non-academic crap (keeping apartment habitable, grocery shopping, getting gas when we need to, etcetera. We will talk in more detail about these aspects of daily life in a different post.

Before the semester began, all of us were ITCHING to go back to school, because our summer break was TERMINALLY BORING. I can’t remember much about it at all. Other than wanting so badly to be back in school and advancing our study of mathematics.

Abstract algebra is fascinating but can be a pain in the behind. Differential equations- nom nom nom. But we haven’t been keeping up with homework for that class because the other class consumes so much attention span and time. Since we are autistic, we have alot of trouble keeping up with anything that isn’t college related also, in addition to falling behind on coursework sometimes. Most of our neurotypical classmates hate this time of semester also, since many of them have a full course load and may also be working. Bucketloads of stress for all!

As I have said before we all love being in college. And this semester we have been more social with our classmates (partly out of necessity- several brains are better than one when it comes to Abstract Algebra homework, and we cannot co-front to do our homework. It just doesn’t work.)

But right now, we just want it to be over already. This part of the semester really really sucks.

When it is finally over, we will probably be extremely relieved for a week or two, and then start itching for the next round.



Recalling an Instance of Extreme Sensory Overload on Vacation

October 18, 2012

I’m one of three autistic members sharing a body.

Being autistic, I often have problems with sensory overload. Loud noise, lots of stuff going on at once….lots of movement, trying to listen to someone and do something else at the same time……it’s hard. And sometimes I exhibit behaviour that is disturbing to others. This happened recently on vacation overseas. I was very overwhelmed already the last full day of vacation, and to top it all off, there was an entire table of noisy kids in the dining hall where I was eating with my family and a couple of our relatives. I sort of threw a fit….after being told several times to go get food, I got up, STOMPED over to the buffet, picked up a plate, walked over to the noodle bin, and took out a huge scoop and slapped them onto my plate in a huff. Then I turned around, STOMPED past where my family was sitting, reached the exit, yelled something to the effect of “finally some peace and QUIET!”, and ran off to find a table far enough away from the dining hall, outside. Then I cried. I was overloaded, disgusted, embarrassed, irritated, all at once.

And then the criticism came. I come from a family of neurotypicals. People who do not have outbursts after the age of 5 just because of loud noises. Basically that’s what my mother told me, that I acted like a young child when I glared at the noisy children and stormed out of the room. This event happened about three years ago, and I can still feel a lump in my throat as I finish writing this post. I can feel the pain in my head and my ears from the auditory assault I faced from the table full of children. I can feel the anxiety spiking. It was through the roof on that evening. I almost feel like crying right now while writing this. I couldn’t possibly think about how my actions would appear to anyone else in the dining area. This was at a hotel in Ladakh, which is a region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in extreme Northern India.

I already had a feeling that the criticism would come but I still couldn’t prepare myself for it. All I was able to think about that evening was making sure I remembered to grab food and then GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THERE. AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. I was in tears because I was humiliated. I shouldn’t have been but I was. Probably because we have all grown up learning and hearing that grownups don’t behave like that. Ever. If they do then clearly something is wrong. Well, that much was TRUE! Something was VERY WRONG that night. My ears and brain were brutally violated! But in the neurotypical world that sort of thing doesn’t seem to count.

This is still very difficult for me to think about even 3 years later.

Parents, siblings, relatives, family friends: the next time your autistic child/adult/sibling/relative has a meltdown on vacation, please do consider possible triggers for those meltdowns. Try not to project your feelings of exasperation onto the autistic person. Chances are they are probably feeling poorly enough about the situation as it is. I know I was. I have learned to become pretty hardy over years of action-packed vacations. But we all have our breaking points.

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