As somebody with Aspergers, I guess you could say that I’m very much a contradiction; I ADORE rock music, and go to concerts for the express purpose of reviewing them. But I can also shudder at some sounds, and become overwhelmed.
For this post I thought I would put to words my relationship with noise, because it’s seemingly perplexing what I’ve just described. Noise I would divide into two categories; What I wish for (A), and what is overwhelming (B). To me they are two very separate things, they just interact with each other occasionally.
What I wish for noise is what I’ve described; it could be the rock music as already stated, the keys of my typewriter (because yes, I like retro things), the sound my cat makes in greeting, the way my vinyl player turns into the next song, a drum beat, the way a poet reads out their work on tape, the flick of a book page. This noise is what makes me feel okay, as it doesn’t overwhelm me.
What is overwhelming noise is a bit more hard to describe. Personally I feel like I lack an internal mechanism to filter noise that someone neurotypical may take in their stride. the best example of this I can think of is that a relative once bought me a China clock with Audrey Hepburn on its face; it still hangs up on my bedroom wall. But I had to take the batteries out; the tick of the clock seemed so loud that I could hardly sleep! I could not help but fixate on the tick, tock, tick tock of the seconds counting what sleep I was loosing listening to it.
This sort of noise can be taken to greater extremes though, and it’s usually dependent on the environment; recently at a services station, I was told to go and sit elsewhere, having been queuing in an overcrowded MacDonalds. (Shoutout to the relative who did this; that was brilliant of you!) But the noise was all round; screaming young children, arguing adults, games played on phones without the silent button, squeaking chairs, food being chewed, a television blurring..
I can’t control how this makes me feel. But I can tell you how it makes me feel.
What is overwhelming noise could lead to what is called a meltdown; for me, it stops me speaking fluently, having blocked my ability to think straight. My speech sounds strangled, incoherent, muddled. It stops me thinking; all I can fixate on is the noise, the noise; the common denominator? “Make it stop, make it stop, PLEASE!”
Time and time again I’ve been told to expect this noise; I do, but the thing is, I can’t control my reaction always. I may mask it, but this leads to me sitting in a room somewhere, trying to escape the noise, once and for all.
So, for me, it’s all in the sound; music, and the various other sounds described, make me feel better. As a tactic for going into environments I may not like-like the Underground; travelling to, from, and around my college; out at a shopping mall-I will be wearing my headphones.
What do you think about noise?