Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health and Safety Guide
ASERT has put together some resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current Coronavirus outbreak.
I like the rain, there’s something about it that is so calming for me to the point where I can generate ideas better. You can even enjoy visuals of rain and take pictures whenever it dies down. There’s just so much I can take from rain unless it gets worse and falls into a hurricane-based storm. There’s something about the soothing abstract sound of water that really makes me feel relaxed. Thunderstorms also make me feel relaxed most of the time but then other times, there were moments where I would hear loud sounds in my sleep and I would get defensive. The reason for overreaction to some loud noises was a sensory issue that I really wanted to get a hold of and in some ways, I think I might have. So, here’s is my brief story on how I take loud noises and how it makes me react.
I grew up not really hearing anything as a child ((about the age of 4-6). I wasn’t deaf, but it just didn’t come easily to me. My mother and my grandmother told me that I had tubes in ears (which I honestly don’t know what that really looked like) and didn’t really pick up on soft or loud noises. So the best way to explain that part of the story was that my mother tried to call my name a few times and I never answered, then she tried shouting to get my attention, and I still didn’t hear my mother calling. So one day she takes me over my grandmother’s house and she tried to call me too, following up with dropping pans to see how I react, and weirdly enough I didn’t react to them at all – I didn’t even flinch.
So going back to the “tubes” story, I guess this was the only way I could maintain my hearing at the time and once I developed that, I started learning how to listen to things and even tried to annunciate and repeat what I heard. It wasn’t the best experience, but it was something that I tried to do. I would try to speak out what I heard and I would say some of what I heard incorrectly. I would mix words with jargon phrases and nobody would catch what I was saying, or I would even mix up phonetics and it would change the mood of the whole conversation sometimes. Until I just started to lose the tubes and was adjusting to other sounds that I haven’t gotten used to.
Losing the tubes, I think was more of the exposure of loud noises (I would give this around the age of 7-12). There were most loud sounds that threw me off, so whenever I would listen to certain songs, I would turn the radio off or at a low setting. I don’t think it was for any sensitive reasoning – I just personally liked it that way because there was just something about staring at the ceiling and listening to the outside that was good for me. Even when I just zoned out and thought of or heard another sound that wasn’t loud it would keep me in a calm state. However, loud noises made me overact around this age. I didn’t like it, so instead of telling anyone that I didn’t like it, I went to sleep any time I heard something that was too loud for me, and sometimes this would be in very social places: sports games, movie theaters, circus performances, and car rides.
However, when I was 12, I picked up playing the viola and this was started off as a hobby that I did on the side, but I eventually started have a personal interest in the profession of learning music and it slowly helped me get out of that fear of loud noises. I enjoyed it and wanted to spend as much time that I possibly could into the instrument.
So my liking to loud noises must’ve come in when I went to a musical-based magnet high school (I went to the GAMP-Girard Academic Music Program starting at the age of 14) from the variations of instruments and tunings of instruments that were pretty close to me. I still didn’t really like loud sounds at first, but I adjusted to it quickly over time and preferred to even enjoy music in a loud setting whenever I am moving, but still kept everything silent when I just need to clear my head. I loved that I could enjoy all kinds of sounds without overreacting. I even took some sessions at music settlement to have music help me to understand emotion.
I am aware that I previously mentioned that fireworks did throw me off at some point, but that’s just because of the events that were happening the past 2 months. Something about that kind of sound when I was younger did make me like the idea of looking up at them followed with a satisfying burst in the nighttime sky. That’s how I usually see these kinds of things if it looks great then the sound doesn’t bother me that much. I like to see what it looks first, since I am more of a visual learner then it goes for me to just enjoy the sound. This can also be the same for when it comes down to almost any loud noise. The time of day also makes a difference. So when I was mentioning that fireworks were an issue for me at the time, that was because it was happening around the times of 3-5 pm during midday hours while the sun was up, the other times would be when I would be asleep. So, any loud noise wouldn’t really offend me, but it would have me overreact in a way where I go into a small breakdown which would then lead to calming myself down!
Overall, I simply love all forms of music (and other sounds), whether soft or loud and I would even go as far as to use it to cope with things that worry me, exercise, or even study. The fact that it’s mood-based for certain sounds may seem off-putting but it isn’t really a problem, because I’ve come a long way that I have walked into getting the ability to hear and enjoying all sorts of naturally made sounds around me.