Now let us do some “You Experience Autism”
and we will start with Visual Oversensitivity:
Brain scans of less-autistic or “neurotypical” people, when they look at other peoples’ faces, their brains show an increased activity in the relevant excitatory centres. (And you are going to ask me for a reference, but I can’t remember.) In the case of the more autistic person, their excitatory centres register far far more activity.
To approximate this, instead of looking at a person for the usual period, look at him.her intently for a minute, keep trying to hold his.her gaze, without telling him.her what you are doing.
This degree of visual intensity may feel uncomfortable for you, but you are aware of what you are doing. Ask the other person how he.she felt when you were staring at him.her. Chances are after a short time the person would have shied away from looking at you, or become resentful or even aggressive, that you should subject him.her to such visual overload.
Now you know why a visually oversensitive person doesn’t want to look you in the face, or if he.she does, then he.she has probably disengaged the sense and he.she is staring right through you, while remaining safe in his.her Own World.
On to the sense of Touch, an even more fundamental need :
One of Temple Grandin’s oversensitivities is/was her sense of touch Here is her description of the conflict, ending up in deeper Retreat to Own World “As a baby I resisted being touched… As a child I wanted to feel the comfort of being held, but then I would shrink away for fear of losing control and being engulfed when people hugged me.”
(Grandin 1984, p.155)
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This example hearkens back to the first page of “How it Starts”: there is a great human need for contact with others, but sensory-overwhelm creates a conflict of needs in the more-autistic person, driving that person back to Own World Retreat.
Although a poor approximation, for you to understand this OverSensitivity, have you ever been strongly sunburnt? The slightest touch by someone on the affected area makes you shrink back, and notably, you become wary of others’ proximity lest they brush against you.
If you have never been so sunburnt, consider instead the extra-senstivity you experience on a part of your body when having previously injured there: a stubbed toe, having bitten your tongue, or the side of your mouth: how much more painful is it the second time around, and how much more cautious and self-focused you become to ensure it doesn’t happen again..?