5 daily autistic struggles

And how I work around them

Norm Julian

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If I could sum up autism in a few words, it would be ‘bottom-up processing.’

It’s like life with a zoom lens, and I’m constantly overwhelmed by the intensity of individual perceptions. Those seem to take up the processing space that should be used to put said perceptions together into larger pictures, like ‘other people’s vibes’ or ‘my own vibes’ or the fact that my entire body should not, in fact, feel freezing cold if I wash my hands and get a little water on the edge of my sleeve.

A lot of us are very good at hiding this, of course, and we cope on the daily in ways you might not notice or necessarily have to think about yourself.

Here are a few aspects of life that can be a struggle — and what I personally do about them.

Sound

Like many autistic people, I’m severely misophonic. But outside of the textural things, I deal with increased noise sensitivity in general, to the point that a busy restaurant setting or even an automated announcement on the bus can be jarring and physically painful. To mitigate this, I:

  • Wear over-the-ear headphones most of the time while out on a walk or errand
  • Use Loop earplugs while riding on transit, at certain restaurants, or on the rare occasion I’m in the office in person
  • Ask family, friends, and delivery workers not to knock or use the doorbell
  • Stick with like-brained (or at least like-minded) people — as in, yes, a naturally loud chewer would be an intimate relationship dealbreaker. The reflexive responses and body language around triggering sounds can get embarrassingly ugly (for me, anyway) and wouldn’t be fair to another person.

Temperature

My body just doesn’t get the memo about thermal comfort, especially when it comes to warming up. No matter my weight or dominant sex hormone, if it’s cold, I’m cold to the bone. And the hot coffee I buy to remedy this will forever be too hot! (or at least take a good 20 minutes to reach a drinkable temperature. Can’t win.)

I tend to roll my eyes when people talk about loving fall and winter…

Yeah, NO. I just wanna be warm. Source.

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Norm Julian

Programmer by trade, Texpat, lover of multicolored things and sunflower seed butter