#6 Earplugs

Written by SAPL on July 16th, 2008 in Uncategorized.


Weird Science

All humans, neurotypical or Aspie, have their “I can’t do without,” accessories. Belts, bracelets, push up bras, you name it. Most of these accessories are for vanity purposes and the person could very well tolerate being separated from, although they might suffer extreme feelings of ugliness, nakedness, fattiness, skinniness, insert appropriate negative psychological feeling of materialistic, neurotic individual.

The Asperger has an accessory, but unlike a neurotypical accessory, it is, for some, an absolute necessity. That accessory is the pair of earplugs.

Many Aspies have various sensory sensitivities, meaning certain sensory stimuli-noises, smells, touches, etc. are more overwhelming for them than they would be for the neurotypical and can sometimes hinder performance or just be more annoying. One of the ways the clever Aspie has learned to circumvent this sensitivity is by following the Scout’s Motto and being prepared by keeping a set of earplugs with them at all times.

This preparation comes in handy to drown out a noisy subway or el train, when you are dragged to a loud concert by a spouse or at least someone you might want to con into being your spouse one day, a library that isn’t always as quiet as it should be, screaming ungrateful brats that share your DNA (that you’re 99.9% sure of according to that test), the wife that talks too much in the car, and the various sounds of papers turning, pens and pencils scribbling, and people moving up and down in squeaky chairs during important tests that might hamper the concentration. In some areas, such as some Graduate Record Exam (GRE) centers, the neurotypicals have evolved and learned that many people can benefit from such measures and provide free earplugs to testers to drown out such nuisances as keyboard typing or loud gas from the nervous dude next to you. Most times, however, the Aspie is on its own.

There are times when the Aspie may be extremely stressed and feel the need to wear the earplugs for longer periods of time and to more places, such as the few last days before a big project that requires constant thinking and concentration. Many people who know the Aspie have come to know that these times exist and may accomodate: Suzy is wearing her earplugs while she washes dishes. I won’t bother her for now. I’ll wait until she talks to me.

Sometimes, these periods of earplug wearing may go on and on and people around the Aspie, such as the neurotypical significant other, may start to wonder when this “period” will subside and they will be able to communicate with the Aspie again. Although there is no known exact formula to predict this, much data exist that shows one strong correlation: When the feud between the wife and her (sister/mother/boss/friend) has ended and she no longer has the need to tell you every detail night after night, the sensory sensitivity period magically (no abruptly, with magically being a bad scientific word) ceases, thus providing a supportive environment for the earplugs to come out.

8 Responses to “#6 Earplugs”

  1. Stuff Asperger People Like » Blog Archive » Eating The Same Foods Everyday Says:

    […] extreme disgust of many foods, such as tomatoes, or inability to tolerate the texture (that damn sensory sensitivity strikes again!) of many foods, or just the plain love of certain types of foods. Tom still brings […]

  2. ericabird Says:

    I’m SO envious!!!! Oh, how I’d love to wear earplugs at various times but here’s my problem and perhaps not such an unusual one: I’ve had the hypervigilance part of PTSD most of my life making me feel it necessary to have all senses on full alert at all times for unanticipated danger. As an Aspie adult I adore genuine quiet and seek it out and revel in nature sounds but I feel that my ears are revolving like little radar dishes on red alert in other settings. I’ve tried earplugs for very brief periods but then my vision just ramps up and I’m spinning around to spot any incoming that I can’t hear and it’s almost instantly way too uncomfortable.
    Not complaining, just thought someone else might find this interesting.

  3. Amanda Says:

    I just use my iPod. It has the bonus of warding off unwanted conversation, and if you go into a store with stupid music, you don’t have to listen to it because you have your own.

  4. AC Says:

    Same here as the above commenter, I just listen to my iPod at work or home. It’s a lifesaver to me because I got my work done much more efficiently while wearing it and listening to my favorite tunes.

  5. Sonja Says:

    Sigh. I have an extensive collection of earplugs of different hues. I wish I were “normal”.

  6. Kendra Says:

    Oh my God. A friend on Facebook wanted to know if anyone else was an “Aspie”. I had never heard of the phrase before so I looked it up and look a quiz online and it was pretty close to a DEFINITE yes. I scored 157 points out of 200, which I did the math, that’s an 80% chance! (OK, so more like 79% but close enough, right??) After looking at websites including this one, it stuns me— how come no one noticed this before?? It’s SO obvious. The ‘earplug’ topic you just mentioned is 100% on target with me. At first, I said, “Oh, I never carry ear plugs,”, but then it hit me, I DO, but instead of ear plugs I have NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES, and ONLY noise cancelling!! I can not STAND hearing noise. It’s distracting… I only noticed it once I was reading the article and I heard the TV on in a room, 2 rooms away, and thought to myself, “Um, this is annoying, where’s my headphones… oh wait… oooh I do, do that!”

    So this is very fascinating. There is so many things I do that I just thought I was an odd person, but now I am finding out this is a specific kind of thinking. One thing that stands out to me that seems different from what I have seen, well I guess you could say is ‘classical Asperger’s Syndrome’ is the “logical thinking”. I am odd because while I am logical and emotionally disconnected, I AM into fantasy books, but in a logical way, if that makes any sense. I love reading things and picking it apart philosophically! While I love programming for the web, and all it’s logic, I also an INTENSELY creative person and that’s my special skill. I won a scholarship by the time I was 15 for animation. I used to take the VCR and slow the tape down frame by frame and STUDY animation and how each frame could create something so beautiful! I study color, why is it that when additive light shines do the colors mix they turn white, and how do they mix, and why is it that in subtractive light the reflected light mix and turn dark? I have this INCREDIBLE artistic talent, I am very creative, but I like applying it logically. Web design? It’s like heaven for me! It’s the perfect blend of art and science! Right now I have been commissioned to paint a skull on a motorcycle, my mother who’s a nurse commented about how anatomically correct my mock ups are! (a mock up is a color rendering of the design so the client knows what the final version will look like, like a rough draft!)

  7. Violet Black Says:

    Ah, yes, the earplugs and headphones. For some reason I never remember the earplugs when the problem with the noise is quality rather than volume, so thank you for the idea.

    It is a problem when people try to talk to me when I have earplugs in. By the time I notice and remove the plugs, I feel terribly guilty that I’ve understood and responded to them worse than usual.

  8. Regulus Says:

    I wear earplugs 24/7, and I still found noise very annoying.

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