One of the curses, if you will, of autism is information, or sensory, overload. That’s when bright lights make your eyes water, multiple sounds from various sources at a mall can give you a splitting headache, or idle chatter in a moving vehicle can make the autistic driver crash. If I step into the dining room downstairs, and it’s crowded, I’ll back away and haul ass as quickly as possible. This “thing” where my brain is constantly surveying the area or analyzing people in order to understand them can lead to information overload. I don’t talk to people so much as unravel them leaf by life like they were lettuce and I’m trying to reach the core. It’d be nice to switch that curiosity off but it’s impossible. No wonder a lot of folks with Asperger’s isolate themselves. The world can be overwhelming and is probably best avoided.
I’ve been sober for about a year and a month now. For 35 years I drank like a fish. Not only did drinking allow me to socialize and relax, it also “turned down” the world. With my senses dull I can face situations I’d normally have difficulty approaching if I was sober. The lights, sounds and smells of a nursing home or hospital can wreck havoc with someone prone to information overload. No wonder that, as soon as I left work, I made a beeline to the liquor store. I’d unscrew the cold, sweltering bottle and gulp down as much as I can. The liquid courage now coursing through me worked wonders. It’s the best invention ever. Of course, it led to other damaging things, so there was some bad mixed in with the good. These days I wear sunglasses when I leave this room. People question why I wear them all the time. I simply remove them and show them my reddened eyes. They understand right away. Yesterday this guy got pissed at me because I reached over and grabbed his bowl of food to read what was written along the side. I didn’t know it was his because it was about two feet away from the cup of soup he was consuming at the time. Sorry, pal. My bad. I can’t turn my curiosity off. It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s how I try to make sense of the world. I can’t help it.