Hearing problems that come under Central Auditory Processing Disorder (which is abbreviated CAPD). She is not able to distinguish speech or other sounds over background noise. She cannot always identify sounds without hearing them more than once. She needs to carefully memorize the entire string of sounds she hears to integrate the sounds into words. She has difficulty perceiving speech, as she hears no obvious breaks between words and phonemes. She needs processing time to understand language or answer questions.
Extreme sensitivity to sound and smell. Imagine trying to carry on a conversation when fragrance from a freshly squeezed lemon burns your nose and throat and overwhelms your sense of smell. Or imagine trying to decide where to walk when your ears and brain are vibrating from a 200-decibel rock band, or a cell phone ring interrupting your thoughts.
Poor visual awareness. She has difficulty expanding her focus to locate and identify the objects she is looking for. She misjudges distances frequently. She can't coordinate her hands to make the moves necessary to manipulate mechanical parts. Using vision in chaotic surroundings with bright or changing lights causes her great misery.
Poor body awareness " Pro-prio-cep-tion is an unfamiliar name for a sense that informs you of your body position, orientation and movement. She doesn’t know where a foot or arm is unless she moves it to feel where it is. She has an inability to copy body movements or regulate continuous movement. She is unable to "follow" directions or imitate dance steps without intense focus.
The first step in dealing with TOO MUCH sensory input is to be able to control at least part of the input. Effective control keeps incoming sensory channels from being used up. High quality hearing protectors do a good job of keeping out all sounds that are not in the range of human speech. Polarized lenses keep glare down. Patty wears a wide-brimmed hat to keep the glare from overhead lights from hitting her glasses.
Patty has worked for brilliant people who easily correlate their sensory input into total sense. She feels stunned admiration when she watches these people at work. It feels a bit like visiting a fine art exhibit -- watching a mental giant working effortlessly to keep track of all details inside the framework of the whole.
When the sensory input is overwhelming OVERLOAD strikes. The extreme case of overload is shutdown, a mental blankness and inability to react to the situation at all. During a conversation or hearing instructions she may become unable to understand language. She may feel physical sensations that are similar to pain, such as buzzing muscles, dizziness, nausea, and panic.
Her habit of hiding her neurological problems means that she is always working at full speed in a desperate race to keep people from noticing that she is actually slow. Her intelligence and phenomenal memory give her the ability to run and rerun scenes and conversations in her head. This allows her to fill in the missing information and get some idea of what they "mean". It can take Patty hours or even days to catch up with the processing in her brain and feel OK again.
After thinking deeply about this recently, she thought she had made a great discovery. It seemed to her that her cluelessness with sensory input and processing added up to a kind of "Global Dyslexia." She defined that as her inability to recognize the pattern of the whole from looking at the pattern of the parts. When she tried to discuss this online, someone "kindly" let her know that she had not discovered a new thing after all. This problem is called "central coherence deficit," and is one of the characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
To conclude she thinks the most difficult part of being a "high functioning autistic" is knowing how difficult and elusive success is in spite of her "high IQ". In her case, the coping strategies she learned as a child, and still retains as an adult, turned out to be poor techniques for coping with adult life. This is why it’s so important to identify the specific disabilities in young people. They can then receive appropriate help, rather than covering up their disabilities.
Copyright © 2003 Patty Clark and Jared Radin