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Aspie Kryptonite

My wife likes to refer to my daughter and I as “super heroes” because our senses tend to work at a higher intensity than most people. For example, we are the first ones to hear a faint sound coming from outside, or a change in temperature in our house. I’m not so quick to claim super hero status – it’s more likely that my daughter and I lack the ability to filter out the stimuli that normal people dismiss as background noise. However, I do agree that people with Aspergers – and people with Autism in general – are more sensitive to their environment. Their brains take in the stimuli and process it in different ways than a neurotypical person does, and these differences show in how they react to their environment.

I’ve found that, as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to use the differences in the way I perceive my world in positive ways. I use the fact that I lack a sensory filter as an advantage to take in more info about my surroundings than a neurotypical person would. I have had to train myself to not be overwhelmed by the incoming stimuli, and that takes focus (something children with Autism very often lack). However, when my ability to focus is impaired, these skills lose their positive value very quickly.

During this week, I’ve had to shift my hours back and forth between evening shift and midnights, losing significant sleep in the process. Because of this, I find myself turning almost dyslexic at times, transposing numbers and/or letters while filling out paperwork (My daughter does something similar when she gets tired: she reads and writes letters backwards – d’s become b’s, p’s become q’s, and so on). I’ve had to fix about 15 typos while typing this up… I probably shoudl have left them in for effect. The worst part is that my alck of focus ends up muting the positive aspects of my Aspie traits (thinking speed, memory, multitasking) and increases the negatiove ones (irritability, social withdrawal, stimming).

So, contrary to what my wife says, I’m no super hero. I just experience the world differently and react to it in a different way. I’m vulnerable to the same mental breakdowns as she and every other “normal person” is… perhaps even more so.