Last time I started discussing how senses affect our perception and I looked at hearing which is my weakest sense, and smell which is my second weakest. For me, even these "weaker" senses mix with memories and provoke both positive and negative emotions. In this post, I'll continue the exploration of the senses;
In my case, taste is the weakest Of the remaining three senses. I know that many people believe in more, in fact, so do I but for the moment, I'm sticking to the classical five. My sense of taste has always been fine but there is such a strong link between taste and smell that my impaired sense of smell obviously affects taste.
There are only two food tastes which I severely dislike; Sultanas and Orange Vegetable (Carrots, Pumpkin and sweet potato). Sultana's are easily the worst affecting me in several other ways, including touch, sight and smell. I can't look at them. I can't eat things that have been stored in the same containers as them and I shiver when I have to touch them (occasionally when the kids spill them all over the inside of their school bags).
Overall, I don't particularly think that taste affects my mood too much. I don't think that this contributes to overstimulation in aspies, though I could be wrong.
Touch is a really really strong sense. In fact, I'd venture so far as to say that many of my taste dislikes are as much about touch as they are about taste. For instance, carrots and sultanas have a texture that I dislike. Most of my childhood food issues stemmed more from texture than taste. I remember going off rice bubbles for two reasons, texture and sight. There wasn't anything wrong with the taste of them.
I have problems touching certain kinds of surfaces, blackboards for instance, and I have issues with "prickly" clothing. When it comes to romantic encounters, sometimes I have major issues with tongue texture. I always have issues with feather-touch rubbing of a finger across my arms, feet and shoulders. I don't seem to have problems with full on hugs, unless I'm not expecting them but a light touch can leave me scratching a spot for ages.
Many of my childhood meltdowns were solely down to touch. I had a couple of jumpers that my mother had knitted for me and some that my relatives had bought for me. It's obviously quite offensive to them if you refuse to wear them. The problem was that these items were torture for me. I'd be scratching from the moment they were put on until hours after they were removed. I used to try to stand my ground and not wear them but my mother wouldn't listen to my complaints, she'd pick the jumpers up and rub them and tell me how nice they felt. Touch is a very personal thing. Things that irritate one aspie don't necessarily irritate others. Some things can be "worn in" but others never become wearable.
There are other aspects to touch too. At school, other children will want to touch you. In the car, your siblings will use touch to annoy you and then there's tickling. I guess that on some level, tickling may entertain certain victims. I don't think I've met an aspie who likes a random tickling.
It's a safe bet to suggest that a high percentage of childhood aspie meltdowns will be related in some way to touch. One way to reduce this problem is to let your aspie carry their own touch-based calmatives.
As a child, I became very attached to an eiderdown (a sort of blanket). I had several over the years but only got attached to certain ones. Even today, I often like to be wrapped in a doona but I'm quite picky about the texture. My wife bought a blanket about a year ago and suggested that I use it instead of dragging the doona cover around. Unfortunately, she bought it without my being present and despite the fact that it was a beautiful soft thing, it didn't work well with my sensitivities. I prefer simple, smooth and cool (temperature) coverings, not furry or prickly ones. These days, I still prefer the old doona cover.
Sight is a curious sense. You'd think that sight wouldn't affect an aspie too much - after all, they can always close their eyes or look away - right? Wrong. Some things, once seen, lodge in the mind. I'm not referring to the problem of TMI (too much information) but rather to issues where sight causes annoyances to surface.
My wife and I stayed at a hotel for our twelfth anniversary last weekend. It was a very nice n place but the restaurant area had a wall pattern which annoyed me. They had a feature of about twelve stone roses in the middle of their wall arranged in a pattern but one of the roses in the bottom row was painted gold, not white.
This might have been passable except that it wasn't even in the middle. It was an irritating break in the pattern.
You can get a sense of what the feature wall was like from the pattern above. It wasn't annoying me to a degree which affected my eating but it did irritate me enough to stick in my head. My wife was aware of the pattern and when I remarked on it she said that as soon as she saw it, she knew it would annoy me. It didn't annoy her though, it was art.
Aspies seek patterns and regularity everywhere and these sorts of things irritate us. I remember as a child watching those endless Spock (Leonard Nimoy) presented featurettes on Stonehenge and wishing I could fix those annoying missing blocks.
I didn't cause me meltdowns but sitting an aspie in a room which is visually annoying doesn't help them to remain stress free.