Sounds of Silence

Generally, I have excellent hearing.  Even after all the loud concerts I have attended, I still hear very well.  But sometimes the words someone says do not match the mouth movements.  Or sometimes, after a period of intense focus on something, a small sound or if there is something that will quickly jar me out of that concentrated focused place, I all of the sudden hear all of the noises around me much louder–white noises, along with every conversation in the room, and any music or keyboard clicking–all of this become very loud and overwhelming.

If I am at a restaurant or bar, deep in conversation with someone, sometimes a plate might be dropped or a glass breaks or a door slams–any sharp noise.  When that happens, I all of the sudden will hear everything 10 times louder and no longer can distinguish the voice of the person with whom I am conversing.

 Phone calls can be very difficult. The background sounds must be very quiet on both ends of the line, or I cannot focus on the voice on the other end and I will have to ask the other person to repeat themselves often.  This makes it extremely difficult with all the political work I do.  Phone banks actually give me migraines due to the stress of working so hard to focus on the voice on the line.

 At work, I pretty much always need to have music playing at all times.  It is the only way to drown out the white noise and background conversations and phones ringing and keyboards clicking.

 At rare instances, I sometimes cannot understand the words spoken on the radio (difficult for someone who enjoys NPR as much as I) or sometimes during a newscast on TV, the words spoken do not connect with the mouth movements of the newscaster.

 This is how it has been for me for several years. 20-some years ago a doctor possibly mis-diagnosed me with adjustment anxiety syndrome because I would have out-of-body experiences when having conversations with coworkers–I could observe both of us having the conversations, as if I was floating a few inches above my body.  When that happened, it took an even greater amount of focus to interpret what either one of us was saying (yes, I even didn’t know what I was saying).  I now know that this was likely due to my Aspergers–add the stress of moving to a new place and starting to work with a new group of coworkers and this would be triggered.  Or when I had to work 70 or 80 hours a week, this would happen then, as well.

 These are real problems for some people with Aspergers. Some don’t have auditory problems at all and some have extreme auditory issues.  This is part of my reality and I am reminded of it daily.


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