Learning About Misophonia and Me
The Sounds That Drive Me Crazy!
Do you ever get the sneaking suspicion that what you are experiencing is just a little different or more in tune than everyone else? Or perhaps, a little more heightened then others might typically experience? Well, in my own investigative way I’ve been reflecting on one particular sensory aversion I’ve had to not only a material’s type of sound, but feel too that since the beginning has absolutely drove me up the wall. It also happens to be something that up until recently I hadn’t the words or correct terminology to put to it until now and here it is… misophonia.
This strange sounding word, is actually about sounds (or repetitive movements) and according to Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism (edited by Barb Cook and Dr Michelle Garrett) ,which has been one of my guides for all things Autistic and female, describes it as “the reaction to sound, sometimes to certain repetitive movements, and can range from mild to severe.” It also mentions that “it is believed to be partly neurological and partly psychological (exacerbated by tiredness, hunger, stress and anxiety)” (Garrett 160). So, there’s that and I know for me personally my reactions tend to be on the milder side (but none less there) and encompass a physiological response or responses that make me literally cringe at it’s sound or feel, cause my teeth to hurt, and that specific texture that comes from touching it I can feel it along every ridge of my finger tips, uncomfortably, irritatingly so; especially when my hands are dry. You also might have noticed that I suddenly get snappy, give you a glaring look to say “stop that” or cringe whenever that sound is created, these are just some of the subtler neurological reactions that go with what’s happening physiologically for me inside my head. The ones in which the inner me is often screaming “Stop it! Stop it! We can’t stand that sound”but being not only self-conscious but self-aware often meant that I created a learned reaction to the sound and over time that has been downplaying this sound sensitivity so as not to draw any extra attention to myself.
Hard to Explain…
Aside from actually controlling where and when this sound happens, the next tricky part has often been explaining where the aversion came from because deep down I’ve always known that this sound (the one we shall not be mentioned) has always been a triggering one for me. In that long before I knew what being Autistic was or even understood it for myself, I felt tortured by the fact that the agendas the school gave us as kids were made of the holographic material. As my peers were without knowing that it drove me crazy, would run their hands along the cover of those planners fascinated by how the image changed when you moved it a certain way. I, on the other hand, was doing whatever it took to avoid touching that cover so as not to drive myself crazy and would delicately pick it up and place it within the confines of my backpack. Writing that I am amazed at how I survived those years without it all driving me crazy.
The good news is that now I am luckily enough to know better, and avoid anything of that nature or feel when shopping strictly on the basis on the sound that it makes. In fact, most times I’ll know as soon as I touch it whether it will be a pain or not, and as nice as it may be will continue to search for a more suitable option. I’ve also trained my family on this aversion, so when we are out shopping together they know, often without me even saying so, that it will be a no go just by picking it up themselves, and while at home are working on not purposely scratching any fabric like item, although at times they do anyways just to see if they can get a reaction out of me).
So, there you have it one of many explorations into my personal sound aversion and a clearer understanding of what exactly it is. Hope this helps you as it has helped me understand.