Turn Down the Volume

Stefanie Sacks

Sometimes going to the mall can be hard. Like one time, when I was in a store, the mall alarm went off. I lost it. I had to find a place to sit and cover my ears tight.

The noise rips through my body. The pain is unreal! I lose touch with what is going on. After the noise stops, it takes only a few minutes to pull myself together, but it can take hours for the agitation to go away. If I am with someone, and they take my hand and get me away, it can help. But sometimes, it can make me more upset. And that’s only one situation that I have to deal with.

Certain clothes bother me. I have to feel them inside. By that, I mean making sure they are not scratchy, rough, or confining. Corduroys, for example, bring back memories. I drove my mom nuts because all I would wear for the longest time was corduroys in a certain style. So she just bought them for me in the color I wanted. We [people with Asperger’s] need to feel like we have some control over our lives. My mom always let me have a say in what I wore, as long as it was appropriate.

Some restaurants bother me. I can hear an oven buzzing! Certain perfumes bother me. Some stores, like a large discount clothing store that I go to, smell like dirty old socks! Some foods make me sick. I can’t eat pizza toppings like extra cheese, onions, or any of the meat stuff. If there is cheese pizza or cheese and veggie, that’s cool.

Noises are always a worry. Like fire alarms, and vacuum cleaners—mostly high-pitched sounds. I wear earplugs when I can. The ones I use are called, “earplains” and can be found at CVS. They also sell kid sizes. If children don’t like wearing the earplugs, parents can bring a walkman and their children’s favorite tapes.

Parents should also pay attention to how their children act in certain places, or if they don’t want to go into a certain store. They may start to cry or scream. Maybe there are buzzing lights, or a paging system that makes a lot of beeping noise.

Here are some of the things that calm me down: a weighted blanket, a big ball, a therapy pillow, swinging, and meds.