Autism Awareness: Sensory Issues

What are some issues that just bother us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I heard a story about the police called onto a school bus in D.C. because an autistic boy kept taking off his mask. A lot of people are quite angry about this, and understandably so. Even if one thinks one should always wear a mask, surely we should have some grace for a boy who knowingly has autism.

I could relate to this guy as even when I do wear one, and I only do if I absolutely have to, I don’t put mine over my nose even because it makes it very difficult to breathe and it is extremely irritating. Many people on the spectrum have various issues with this. There are certain sounds, sights, smells, etc. that have a problem.

In the movie Mozart and the Whale, a clanging sound like the sound of the clanging of bells gets a character to react in an extremely negative way. Now we all have sounds and sensations that we don’t like, but for those of us on the spectrum, we can often be extreme in how we react. It’s one thing to not like the sounds of claws on a chalkboard. It’s another thing to practically assume the fetal position when it happens.

For some of us, this can interfere with day to day practices. It takes a heap of effort for me to look in the area of a dirty dish. If I was carrying a used paper plate that had even a crumb on it, I would carry it like I am carrying something radioactive. This is one reason why it’s so awkward for me to be in a social situation involving food.

Coming back to the mask situation, there should be grace given. Calling the police in is definitely overkill. For those of us who struggle with the rules of society already, this is adding a whole new layer to it. Also, if you’re not on the spectrum and see this happening to someone who is, they’re sure not going to hesitate to do this to you.

If you are interacting with someone on the spectrum, try to find out if they have any sensory issues that could be problematic. I stated before I don’t really like to be touched, even by some people that I know. You could have a serious negative impact on a person on the spectrum without intending it or realizing it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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