Writing with Aspergers Syndrome: Part 2
Sensory Processing Disorder
One of the most common traits of Autistic individuals is some degree of Sensory Processing Disorder; when the seven main senses (sight, smell, touch, sound, taste, balance, and movement co-ordination) are either jumbled up and/or extremely over or under-sensitive.
It is most common for the five crucial senses to be over-sensitive, resulting in mild to severe distress when exposed to certain stimuli over an extended period. For me, one of the hardest senses to deal with as I grew up was touch. Light touch in particular is something that I have never liked. There's just something about the way that other people's skin brushes along mine that makes the skin want to crawl away from my body.
Light has never been good to me either. From a young age, I showed a particular sensitivity to florescent bulbs and have always struggled to concentrate beneath their false rays of sunlight.
With SPD, things can become overwhelming rather quickly. What may seem like a normal day out for someone else, feels like I've been awake and dragging a bag full of rocks for days. It is exhausting and can be considered as one of my greater weaknesses.
But, there are also added benefits of Sensory Processing Disorder when it comes to writing. I can remember anything I have ever smelt or tasted, or even felt. It is like I have a memory bank of any sense I've experienced to this date. Being able to recall such feelings at the drop of a hat has helped me to paint vivid pictures within my work. Furthermore, I can imagine how I might react to a certain stimuli and therefore interpret a character's reactions accordingly.
A range of senses can stir up the deepest of emotions within us. To feel everything more profoundly is in ways a great gift. I do and shall continue to endeavour to use this difference in my brain as a skill for which to improve upon my writing.
Going hand in hand with my overdeveloped senses is what I understand to be termed a photographic memory. While not all Autistic individuals possess such a thing, I've noted several people, like myself, that do. In my case, I can not just re-create smells or tastes in my mind, but sights too. Sadly I cannot keep a picture still enough in my head to draw it on paper (if only I could), but what I can do is construct moving images of my writing as I work.
I am able to play back memories as if they are a film I had just plucked off of a shelf. Every colour and shape presents a unique image to me, which is stored in my mind for further use. As I developed my writing throughout my younger years, I began to view my work in pure picture form and would describe what I could see to the best of my ability. To this day, I continue to describe the images that come to mind when I write and honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way.
Knowing what it is like to be different
Have you ever felt like everyone else is part of a different species; a breed of human that seems to lack a basic understanding of what you think the world is like. I was always the odd one out. The weird kid, the outsider, the one that didn't belong.
Looking out through these eyes today, I wonder how each of you sees the world. Perhaps you are a glass half full kind of person and you mosey on through life thinking things are good. Or maybe you are a glass half empty kind of fellow and you can't seem to find the light in this life. As for me, I'm an idealist.
I see the world as it should be, but feel as though there is nothing I can do to improve upon it. I know what it is like to be different and to be judged accordingly by society, but why are we not able to challenge such behaviour? In the street, if someone is being harassed, how many of us actually stop to lend our assistance to the person who is hurting?
The answer might shock you. Most of us would just walk on by. When you are different, you crave to find someone who can understand (at least I do). You search everywhere for someone who shares your oddities, your worries, your eccentricities and when you find them, your world finally feels like it is complete.
Such differences can make for a potential strength In writing, as I mentioned before with my SPD and photographic memory. Difference as an idea can fuel unique characters that the reader will love and identify with, even if only at a subconscious level. Why not give a character some of your own quirks and see how they react in different settings and circumstances.
Use the point of view of the different individual searching for a fellow oddball, or the perspective of the termed 'normal' person looking for a way to make everyone like them. There are a lot of ideas that you can play with in this department.
What is important is to know that however different you are and no matter how hard it may be for the world to understand you, you are worthy of that understanding and are worth more than you can ever know. Take these skills and turn them into something positive. Let the world see your true sparkle.