Growing up with high sensory in autism

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Growing up with high sensory in autism

The negative and positive sides of high sensory in autism.

I am 38 years old and found out I’m on the autism spectrum about four years ago. I cried with absolute relief. A ton of heavy grief, self-doubt, self-punishment, the feeling of being weird… fell off me all at once.

I think, for me, the biggest thing was that there was finally an explanation for many things. I now know that I ended up depressed in my teenage and young adult years, simply because I couldn’t process this over stimulating world. I became depressed because I was feeling too much whilst I thought I was weak for not being able to deal with the world… I now understand why I wanted to – and did – physically hurt myself. I was so angry with myself for not being able to deal with life and thought I deserved to be hurt as I was a wimp and weak. I would physically punish myself using food. If I could go through the day only eating specific food than I was strong and I deserved to be successful and loved. When something went wrong ie someone said something which I perceived in an ‘oversensitive’ way, I would eat the whole package of biscuits so I could tell myself how stupidly sensitive and weak I was.

I thought I was a wimp because I was so sensitive to sound, light, touch, taste, energy, feelings… 

Every day, as a child I would come home without my home-work books. My mum would still be at work but luckily my grandma had the patience of a saint and she would go back with me to get them. I now know that I am not a forgetful person, I was just given so much information all at once that I couldn’t process it resulting in me forgetting stuff.

As a child, I would twirl my hair constantly, in class and after school. I have now heard of stimming… that was my stimming… Only, instead of people recognising this and allowing it, one of them, my evil step-mum would slap my hands to stop! I feel so sorry for my child-self as twirling my hair was my way of stimming, releasing stress from school overload and having to be at a house away from my mother’s safe haven house every two weeks to see my dad. I would twirl my hair in a constant specific way. I remember the feeling of the hair touching my finger, soft and cold, over and over again. I still twirl my hair and I see now, I only do it when I’m overcooked. It is my way to calm myself down.

The only ‘positive’ way (hm… that can quickly run out of hand as well…) I developed to control this oh so uncontrollable life, was OCD… As a child, I had strict routines before bedtime. If it was disturbed, I would start all over again. As I grew older, it turned into the same words used in my prayers every night. Wearing specific clothes on specific days, eating the same food every day. I was desperate for routine, routine, routine which was a counter balance for my sensory issues.

Going out as a teenager was a nightmare. If there were any flashing lights or too many people, I felt like fainting. I could feel, smell and see what people had eaten, what they were feeling, how their body’s smelled and felt like… I still do but I have learned how to deal with this.
I ended up really enjoying pub life as that was more contained but alcohol was a whole other story. I had many drunk nights as my over sensitive body did not agree with it. As a young adult, I went the complete other way to revolt against myself and the world. I had way too many drunk nights and way too many ‘boyfriends’.

I have come a very long way and Today, I can safely say I have everything beautifully ‘under control’. I have through massive trial and error, learned how to deal with those sensory issues. I feel safe with my high sensory and use it to help others and create fabulous stuff. It hasn’t disappeared as that’s not possible, it is who I am, but I love myself and see the beautiful gifts high sensory also brings.

Today, my house has to be clean and organised. Any mess makes me very anxious and I simply can not think. I work out and have massages to positively feel my body. I use positive affirmations and have found a deep trust in the guidance of the Universe which has turned my ‘negative’ OCD off completely. I no longer need it as I trust. I trust. I trust…

I still really need to force myself to try new food. I still eat the same every evening as it gives me security. Even when a trip is prepared and I really look forward to it, the week before, I’m unsettled and anxious.

After having been around many people, I need a day on my own with as little stimulation as possible to recover.

Research on the net is still a bloody nightmare! I am currently filling in my IMDB profile (which is a fantastic network btw! But… ) it is supposed to be ‘easy’. Can I say, many small words all crammed together, explanation after explanation… I am completely overwhelmed. This is typical information-a type of sensory-overload. 😉 Luckily my husband is in research and I can just forward it to him but I can safely say, I would prefer autism friendly information so I can do it myself.

I have learned how to deal with being on the autism spectrum and am so grateful now for this high sensitivity and the lessons it has brought me. Thanks to this, I can avoid my children having to wait until they are in their thirties to deal with themselves. Thanks to my bumpy road, I can help my children on spectrum to feel safe, secure and confident with their sensory issues so they don’t have to become depressed, highly anxious or have an eating disorder before they know how to live with it and love themselves! 

I am not a wimp or weak because I feel A LOT, thank you.
I have the luck to have accepted this incredible gift of high sensory so I can help others do the same.
Yes, I am incredibly strong and determined (like a dog with a bone… 😉) otherwise I wouldn’t have been given the gift of high sensory.

I can safely say, do not ever underestimate people on the spectrum. 

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