I used to cry on long car trips as an infant up until age 5. It wasn’t due to boredom. It was due to sensory processing disorder than accompanied my (undiagnosed back in the 1980’s) autism spectrum disorder.
Though I outgrew this, I do remember telling my mother later that it was due to the sound of the tires against the road that set me off.
While I am blessed to have outgrown some intolerable sounds, others intensified as my brain continued to develop.
Some experts have theorized that it was solely due to my dad’s sudden death in my teens, but if that were the case, how would one explain the extreme auditory sensitivity before he died? How would that theory stand up in the wake of the progress I have made in the 21 years since his death?
I should explain that I have long adjusted to my dad’s passing and the pain is no longer acute. I am now processing my mother’s death, which occurred 13 months ago. My brain has been finished growing for 13 years (I am 35). No new sound issues or intensification with problem sounds since. I think this disproves the psychological theory.
However, as a person on the autism spectrum, processing death has been much more difficult and in different ways since losing both parents. For example, the feeling of increased vulnerability, being alone for longer periods of time
There is a difference in how I have dealt with each passing. I am older and have had beneficial therapy that has helped me to cope better as an autistic person.
That said, I think the psychological and emotional only theory can be further disproved. Clearly, they factor in any person’s loss of a close person, but in the case of an autistic person, it isn’t the defining argument for or against brain development.
My autistic symptoms were evident when I was still a 6-month fetus. I didn’t experience any real trauma in my life until I was 11 and entered middle school. Even then, aside from acute anxiety, my symptoms didn’t change until about age 16, two years after my dad died.
P.S. I came long ago to enjoy long car trips. I look out the window rather than plugging in to some electronic device. I love the moving feeling and never have experienced carsickness.
Autism awareness may be commemorated in April, but it is a 12 month-long campaign. Please advocate if you can. Blog and/or use social media. You can find me on Google Plus (autisticaplanet).
Please consider donating money to UNICEF or Samaritan’s Purse (or another charity you trust) to help earthquake survivors in Nepal.
God bless you.