I had a long conversation this weekend with my son about how great it is to be early to things. We were riding the bus at about 7 a.m. to a Sensory Sensitive Early Opening at the Seattle Children’s Museum.
We talked about how when we’re the first ones there when a place opens, it’s blissfully quiet. The fewer people, the less noise there is, the happier we are. We love our Autism Early Opening and Sensory events even if it means getting up pretty darned early on a Saturday. The lights are turned down, sounds are kept to a minimum, and there are relatively few people there. And the people who are there are families like ours.
Later that week, we talked about why sometimes we can’t even tolerate music being played in the car. The sound of the car, the hum of engine, the tires on the road, the wind, it’s one fairly consistent sound, but that one sound is all we can handle sometimes.
When we were talking, I could handle simple instrumental music. As long as it was just strings, no percussion, no vocals, I could handle the added sound. The moment there was anything else added, my brain overloaded trying to sort out the separate sounds. Drums hurt. Vocals hurt.
But my son couldn’t handle any music, and got agitated. Amusingly, any time I flipped to a radio station of pure static, he said to leave it. White noise works for him. Not so much for me.
Noise can really drain and wear me down. I’m beginning to realize how exhausted I can become from the constant onslaught of sound. Especially since I work with dogs. I’m so thankful we can wear headphones at work. Soothing music helps, but there’s only so much I can tune out.
After dealing with animals and people, even part time, I start to really struggle. Doing even normal things after a shift can be difficult. Cub Scouts, for example, I’ve begun to dread, depending on the day.
We had a great time at scouts for the Pinewood Derby, but there were a number of kids with little volume control. My husband, son, and I were all struggling to get through the evening.
My boy’s car was doing really well, but he didn’t seem all that excited to be there. He stayed by himself, off to the side. I related to him so much. He was happy, he had fun, but it was just too much to handle.
Afterwards my husband looked at me and said, “I had been thinking I wanted some kind of sign that the Vasectomy was a good idea. Tonight was my sign.”
As a family, we enjoy our own space. The two men in my life, my husband and son, prefer a much higher noise level than I do. My husband is a drummer. One of my son’s favorite stims is pacing. And he doesn’t have a light step.
When I get to the point of sensory overload, I can become rather irritable. My focus and ability to think is often greatly impacted. I can have trouble speaking, forget obvious words, names, and etc. I don’t like to be touched, or crave deeper pressure.
Even now, as I write this, I’m struggling. I’m having trouble finding words. As a writer, this is very problematic. Especially considering I also struggle with spelling and homonyms. Keeping words straight is difficult. When my focus is shot, it’s damn near impossible.
I want to push because I know I need to write. I need to make a habit of it, like I did when I wasn’t working, or when I had a desk job. At times like this, trying to write is like pounding my head against a wall.
I keep pushing, because I have to. Every small bit of progress is an achievement, and I’ll take whatever I can get.
It may be difficult at times, but I’ve gotten this far. I just have to realize what my limitations are and take the breaks I need. With lots of sleep and a hearty dose of ridiculous, mindless anime watching, I’ll make it through.