Dogs are amazing creatures. Their ability to adjust, accommodate and survive never ceases to intrigue me. Too often, despite trauma and abuse, dogs nevertheless seem able to rise to pulchritudinous grace, something which I long to be able to learn and adapt to my own fragile humanity.
Here is something I wrote this day three years ago, describing in words – though most inadequate – what sensory overload is like in the midst of trying to live and survive inside normative-dictated frameworks and prescriptions. There is sadly very little ‘clement space’ for the autistic entity inside this overwhelming overstimulating normative world – well, almost none at all.
Four months of chaos, disorder, sensory assault and social dissonance. The autistic constitution can only be this much resilient. I wonder often how much an average neurotypical is able to endure the same dimensions, levels and consistent torture – and do so with the panache and persistence that many of us autistics execute on a daily basis?
Time to retreat and reboot. If only for a mere four and a half days.
Saturday bruncheon with Rick at our favourite Not Just Coffee – nourishing noshment and conversation, providing vim and vigour for the adventure ahead. It was so good to be back in our old neighbourhood of Paddington too.
The autistic life is not terrible. Just very challenging. In fact, some days, the struggle is monumental and overpowering. But the wonderment is so glorious and beautiful, the thrill so resonant, I will not exchange it for anything less – even if it is a 5% compared to the 95% of struggle. Continue reading →
Breakfast feast – sardine sammich, mini apple, with yummy olives from Rick.
Help and support hanging on the door knob. No need for social interchange if unable to cope with it. This is a blessedness indeed.
I remember a few incidents when I was pursuing my M.Phil in music composition in Hong Kong. I was very unwell – an autoimmune response to what was most probably sensory and emotional overload and meltdown – high fever, excruciating mouth ulcers, crippling arthritis. A few friends came to the rescue. Continue reading →
A simple down-home common-man breakfast of kaya and butter on toast, accompanied by a childhood favourite, ginger marmalade. Not ‘healthy’ fare, but comforting. And I need comfort now.
Overwhelmed. By minutiae. Every little detail matters to my brain. On a low physical day, specks of dust on the parquet floor become a legion of warring animations, and the little bits and bobs scattered around waiting to be neatly and systematically organised start to scream out a terrifying Wagnerian chorus. Continue reading →
A sensorially surreal morning. Breakfast was strangely green hued, not sure why, it just felt the right colour today. I made avocado and anchovy paste, then added mozarella slices and olives, folded the wraps into little parcels and lightly baked them. Extremely filling! We walked to the post office – it was warm and sunny, with temperatures above 20C, it just didn’t feel like winter. I decided to get a takeaway lunch at my favourite Southern Wok cafe. I didn’t feel up to doing any cooking today. My senses still feel raw and frayed from the sorties we made yesterday and the day before. I chose the steamed chicken with ginger and spring onion soy sauce . Delicious, but I am not so sure it was the right choice after all. I do feel a little too stuffed and heavy laden. However, the food did give me some energy and I vacuumed the floor and wiped the bathroom. The dishes are still lying forlornly in the sink. I shall attempt them later.
Many people have asked me, “What does sensory meltdown or overload actually feel like?” I am hard put to describe it accurately, though it is a project I am duty bound to confront and contend with. Today is not a meltdown day, but the senses are shaken, stirred and somewhat swirling around still in a sort of aftermath-shock. Grey specks swirling around in murky churning vomit-yellow liquid, low visibility, sharply acidic and a droning groan in shades of dirty green.
Chicken and corn soup, salsa with roast pork, and lemon cupcake
Asparagus and spinach soup, bread and brie
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.
The struggle with sensorial discomfort is a looming feature of daily life for autistic individuals. Fortunately, a Ph.D scholar is expected to be somewhat reclusive – even for ‘normal’ folks (but… how many ‘normal’ folks want to do a Ph.D anyway?) – and hence I am enjoying a good measure of isolation now, without the social remonstration that often comes with choosing peace and quiet above meaningless socialising. It helps me to be alone when my body is in pain. The wet weather does not make it easier to navigate, the smell of rot is cloying and nauseating, and I am less able to shake away the chemical onslaught of depression.
A bowl of hot rice congee with salty preserved soy beancurd always helps to settle my frayed senses at times like these. Of course, Lucy helps so much. She is sensory and emotional comfort to me in a way that no human ever could be, she is beautiful, a visual balm, and she makes me laugh too. Continue reading →
It is no surprise that the weather affects people’s moods, but for those with hypersensitivies, whether autistic or not, the weather plays an even more powerful part in our overall conditions. After a long spell of dry, sunny and warm weather, it has now begun to rain. Today, my senses are in a near shutdown modality. The weather has been less than ideal for us both. Lucy hates walking in wet soggy grass, she avoids the muddy spots, daintily steps around puddles, and frantically searches for dry ground, asking to get back indoors, and veering towards sheltered walkways at every opportunity she finds. For me, wet days make me feel as if there is a very insistent, bulky and heavy wet towel wrapped tightly around my head. My head throbs with a dullness that seeps into and permeates my mental faculties. I am unable to think clearly through the sensory fog, it is thick, and a dirty shade of grey. My legs, from the knees down, are tingling from a cloying clamminess that makes the entire length of knee, shin and ankle ache, and the toes perspire at the same time. There is a sick smell of rot in the air, which makes me feel nauseous, and my body seems to disengage from the mental command centre, such that my limbs and digits don’t want to obey orders from the main control station. Yes, I do understand that the earth needs its watering, of course I do, but my hypersenses are not convinced. I am in auto-zombie mode at times like these. Continue reading →