Growing up, I always found the last week of summer to be a bittersweet experience. I relished the freedom, yet felt terrified about the new school year ahead. I’d start to build up an overwhelming amount of anxiety that would travel with me into the classroom.
Serena McCarroll first began to experience chronic pain during her training at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. She would later develop additional challenges with proprioception, the body’s ability to continually sense and integrate its movement and position.
What follows are stray thoughts, unrelated to one another. They are also, collectively, one and the same thought.
Getting lost in Seville is like getting lost in a dream. Especially at night.
Drifting by people and stone, steeped in the verbal footfall of echoing voices. Restaurants folded into impossibly small spaces, yet expelling, into the passageways, a rich bundle of sensory dregs: meal-scents, more voices and the ceaseless clinking of glass.
It’s odd that we change. Years pass, memories of different selves accrue. I think the mind can have a difficult time reconciling those different selves with their varied, contradictory shapes.
I remember having a much stronger sensory awareness when I was a kid. My nose would haunt me, for example. I would smell something unpleasant, and a sense of unease would settle over me for days. I’d grow moody about it, troubled. Sometimes, for reasons I didn’t understand at the time, I would lash out at others well after the triggering scent.
The Sensory Connection
The goal of this ongoing series is to examine the interplay between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and depression. As mentioned in Part 2, it can be difficult to untangle one from the other since depression can hide behind autistic traits. But there’s another factor involved with ASD that can also allow depression to persist unchecked: sensory issues.
To cover the role of sensory issues in this dynamic, I’ll make 3 points.
After graduating college in 1998, I decided to pull a disappearing act. My social deficits had not improved over time…I was alone, confused. I didn’t understand how to move forward in my life, so I withdrew. I established new routines that allowed me to both avoid people and more easily manage my sensory issues. For the next decade, I worked a graveyard shift, slept during the day, and had very little contact with the rest of the world.
When you have sensory issues, life can be a constant search for constructive solutions. The problem is that most people aren’t dealing with sensory issues…and those that do very likely have them in a different way. As a result, it can be tough to find examples to learn from.
This means you often have to go it alone and develop coping strategies through a process of trial and error. It’s actually one of the benefits of sensory issues: they force you to become creative.
One of the great joys of reading blogs by people on the spectrum…and by parents of kids on the spectrum…is reading about all the different ways people adapt to their sensory experiences.
Here are just a few of the ways I’ve adapted, over the years.
1988: I’m 13 years old.
There was a period of time when I was very focused on crayons. I was four years old, maybe five.
I remember that I liked to pull the paper covering off of each crayon. I would start at the top, gently work downward and sideways. I’d go about it slowly, try to get it all off in a single, unwinding tear.
With any new box my parents gave me, I would open it…take the crayons out one at a time…rip the paper from each one…and then flush the pile of shreds down the toilet. [Read more…]