My world of late has been extremely intense indeed. Crowded and saturated with extraneous and undesirable details of physical assignments and dysfunctions, the sensory overloads have been relentless. Food is not a chemical comfort, it is also a holistic device I use to help me climb out of the abyss each time I fall into one. The entire process – shopping, planning, preparing, cooking, arranging and imbibing – is a ritual that I need. However, food cannot make me laugh deeply, nor cause me to revel in love and companionship. For that, I have Lucy, She is my one constant relief from comorbid demons of anxiety, fear and depression. And although she cannot alleviate the physical symptoms, she does help keep my body exercised and alive to the present.
It is one thing researching autism, and another thing living autism. Then there is a juxtaposition of researching and living autism, simultaneously. Autobiographical research is not the easy subjective ride that many purport. It is eyeball-to-eyeball challenging, an acrobatic performance of looking out from inside while in from outside, staring Self in the mirror while taking both the role of Self and Other, empathising and criticising. There is a constant demand for critical introspection and a heightened state of Self-Other awareness.
I am passionate about the subject, and I delight in the challenge. However, the pursuit of anything worse pursuing is always fraught with our own fail humanity. Contrary to the too widely disseminated claims of pop-science, autistic people are not at all feelingless machines. Quite the opposite. And this extremeness of empathic synergy often tips us into the abyss of overload and meltdown. From which we then have to expand enormous amounts of energy to emerge once more. Climbing out after each tumble. A continuous hazardous undulation.
I have long suspected that the ones of us who are non-verbal, and thus labelled “low” functioning by the neurotypical assessors, who have based the assessments on their own non-objective socially loaded perspectives, that this group of our spectrum population are actually even more acutely affected by the nuances of our world. This long held hypothesis of mine has now been vocalised from different perspectives by various other researchers, including Kamilla and Henry Markram, who have suggested the “Intense World Theory.” While there are details that I do not entirely agree with, many of the ideas resonate alongside my own. It explains well, even if somewhat too simply, the immense struggle that all autists face – and those of us on the supposed “high” functioning end are actually in fact less acutely sensory affected, and that is why we are able to function seemingly better in harsh, inhospitable terrain.
And function I have learned to do. Though I still feel like a goldfish in the wrong pond, surrounded by carp. Nevertheless, I have that Ph.D to complete. So, soldier on, Bunny!