OK, so, at last, I am back on board. Well, almost, anyway. I’ve been back in Sydney for a few weeks now, and cooking intermittently as best as I can, but life has been too hectic to keep up with posting here. The sense keep on keeping on, nevertheless, and my wonderful sensory adventures never cease.
I have been musing on perspectival differences, where simple fundamentals of living are concerned. Just one degree of separation can mean a huge divide once the trajectories are fired and off. Take cleanliness and order, for example.
I came home to what was, to me, a mess. However, my friend and housemate both swore that they had cleaned up thoroughly, prior to my arrival. I have no reason to doubt this fact, only that their idea of cleaning up is far from mine. Granted, it wasn’t an Almighty Mess, but just a mess, and that was how I knew for sure that they had done what they said they did, i.e. clean up. If they hadn’t, it would’ve been a far greater nightmare than the one that greeted me upon my homecoming. (Take a deep breath, Bunny, but try not to register the smells.)
Now, I am by no means an obsessively neat Aspie Bunny. In fact, quite to the contrary, I am considered extremely messy, especially next to my younger sister, who is supremely organised and neat. So very often, I find myself sitting amidst the rubble of my own messiness and berating myself for not having that special talent for keeping my space laboratory-orderly. However, that is the delightful (or frustrating) thing about juxtapositions. A good friend of mine, an Aspie middle aged scientist who lives alone, made this observation during one of our many discussions on the topic of neurodiversity and the frictions between the typical and atypical. He said that it had a lot to do with hypersenses and detail focus cognition, or the lack of. We only become agitated (or overjoyed) by what we can sense, what we can observe and register. We don’t know what we are suffering or missing if we cannot sense or perceive it. For me, being hypersensitive with the detail focus cognition inherent in autism, I notice far more than the ordinary man (or woman) in the street. Hence, this heightened perception places me in an almost constant state of exasperation and over stimulation as a result of other people’s insensitivity to their surroundings.
Of course, there are neater neurotypicals too, one out of the four housemates was a dream to live with, so don’t get me wrong, this is not about NTs all being insufferably filthy. It is just about my personal experiences. Now that I have had the good fortune (?) of having lived with a variety of humans under one roof, I realise how exceptionally different my standards are from that of others.
What have I learned in the process? Nothing I didn’t already know, i.e. it takes all kinds, and us Aspies just have to put up with a whole lot more because of our little sensory and cognitive quirks. However, I did learn a great deal because what I knew as technical knowledge became very animate and cogent to me. One learns best when there are graphic examples in real time, that one can touch, taste, smell, see and be overwhelmed by. In the case of the hypersensitive Aspie Bunny, it felt like hell was staging a Wagnerian epic on the cloud which hangs perpetually above my head.
In typical Aspie style, I stayed put in the various insane situations for far longer than I should have. I didn’t know how to express my despair and frustration, I felt it was all my own fault for being so hyper sensitive. And I didn’t know how to tell people to leave. Telling them to clean up or be neater will have no effect other than annoy and offend them, because people always think they are the neatest and cleanest creature on earth. One of them actually declared ever so expansively that they were fastidiously clean by habit. (Erp! Yes! Talk about lack of self knowledge. But that is another major epic topic in the Aspie-NT discussion, which will not fit into this one little blog post!)