In honor of Autistics Speaking Day, I would like to share with the public a few of my experiences as an individual on the Autistic Spectrum.
I first was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2006, when I was 26 years old. Before this, the only professional explanations for my differences were “severe social phobia” and “selective mutism.”
Being on the spectrum, I have some sensory issues. They have been with me all of my life, and have created many challenges for me. Typically, bright lights and strong perfumes irritate me, and I often suffer from headaches due to them. I feel very uncomfortably self-aware of my skin, and sometimes feel trapped in my body. Because of this, I unwittingly engage in certain stereotypies – often pacing, shaking my leg in place, flapping my hands, swinging my arms, and rocking back and forth, without even realizing it. I am unable to withstand most fabrics, and almost always wear cotton, avoiding anything frilly or lacy. Tight-fitting shoes and pants are completely unbearable, along with bras with seams in the cups, and cheap socks with seams that pucker at the edges. I’m intolerant of many flavors and textures, and typically eating the same few foods over and over, for weeks, months or years at a time, with little deviation.