18 Jun 2019

Undersensitivity and Autism

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Since a year or five I now know that I have autism, Asperger syndrome. Since then, much has been searching for myself. Lots of thinking and talking to people around me; experts, fellow sufferers, like-minded, skeptics and tutors. One of the things I have found out is that part of my autism is pretty underexposed, namely undersensitivity. There is (relatively) much known about hypersensitivity, but I even had to add to the dictionary of my editor.

What do I mean by undersensitivity?

As I cited, there is relatively little to be found about undersensitivity in autism. But I think it is important to specify what I mean by undersensitivity here. Because little is known, it seems to me good to determine what it means for me to be undersensitive and what I experience. Undersensitivity for me expresses itself in the following:

-Failure or very late experience of bodily impulses such as hunger and thirst -Late experience of having fatigue -Undersensitive to light/sound (versus other people with autism) -“Strange” feeling for time (I’ll go into it later) -No internal sense of structure and schematics

Other people have also mentioned that they are experiencing a lack of incentives and are therefore having problems. Although this is certainly legitimate and can certainly cause problems, I do not experience this myself. I will go into that later.

Outward identification points of undersensitivity

As you have been able to read, my points of undersensitivity are actually all internal sentiments or lack thereof. Now it is of course so that it is difficult to recognize the outside world when I camp with these matters. It is so that I am not really “bothered”. The awkwardness of being under sensitivity is often that you do not find yourself bothered by it. Because it “doesn’t bother” you, it doesn’t really get in your way. However, it can have consequences for yourself and your environment. So how do you recognize undersensitivity? I would like to say once again that these points are of course very personal, they work with me but maybe you recognize yourself (or another) in some points:

-Forget to drink. Only when the body, for example, gives a headache indicates that the moisture is too low, only to find out that it is more than 20 hours since you drank. -Forget to eat. Again; only when the body with for example a hard-grunting stomach or seeing stains indicates that I need food, finding out that it is 24 hours since you ate. -Skipping nights on a regular basis. Do not feel tired after a normal day and do not need to go to bed. -Have rubbish in the house and you are not, or hardly not, bothered by it -Music need to concentrate on your work

These are all things that can be recognized by outsiders. I myself actually experienced these things all.

Another way of experiencing time

This is a tricky one. Unlike people around me, I experience time in a passive way. For me, time goes fast. For me, hours pass quickly into days and days into months. This makes it difficult to estimate how long something has been or will last. Making a time schedule for a day is no problem, but I have to be very aware of this. That is why I have several alarms in my phone to remind me of things. Things like eating dinner, showering and bringing / collecting the children for example. Also how long ago I have spoken to someone I do not experience as a problem.

I often tell people that met “Beware, I am a social misfit. I can not speak for months and then just continue where we left off”. That’s exactly what I mean. I notice that NTers (neuro-typical / “normal” people) attach a certain value to this. If I don’t speak to someone for a few weeks, they think that friendship or contact has become less valuable. Or that they think that I value the contact less. For me this is a strange concept. As I look at it, the value of the contact or the closeness of friendship has not diminished. This has remained the same for me.

This is my under sensitivity

So under sensitivity and autism. Underexposed and unknown to many people. This is my view of the subject. It is sometimes difficult, but as with many things about autism, it is fine to live with. I am curious about your experiences! Are there things in this that you recognize? Are there any questions about this post? I like to hear them!

Thanks for reading
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Tags: persoonlijk dit-is-autisme autisme ondergevoeligheid 
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David Westerink
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I am David, born in 1984 and I'm autistic. I write blog posts and advocate for autism acceptance. I'm willing to talk to anyone about anything.

I have my own podcast (in Dutch) about autism and neurodiversity! Checkout the AutCast!

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