When I was growing up, some five decades ago, I drove family members crazy with my record player. If you don’t know what a record player or phonograph is, you probably don’t know what 45 rpm’s either. I imagine my Mom wondered what in the world was she thinking giving me a record player for Christmas one year. The music actually went along with my autism trait of talking to myself, of retreating into my imaginary world, of pacing back and forth while playing records of what are now “oldies”.
I don’t mind loud music, BUT! Oh, a very important BUT! I don’t mind if it is music I chose and turned on. If someone else is playing music that I am within earshot of, a storm brews up inside of me with claps of thunder, streaks of lightning, and pounding rain. I know it is not socially acceptable to tell someone, especially if you are related by blood or marriage, to stop playing or turn down the Facebook video such as that of a church choir singing. It’s not the hymn, it’s not the choir or the soloist, it’s something I cannot explain. I have to walk away from it until the music stops. Once it stops, I am back in my happy place.
An example of this was an evening when I was riding in the car with three other people. The driver, his son in the front seat, and another sitting across from me in the back seat. Someone put on a CD of their favorite music. I knew I was headed for meltdown country. It didn’t help when the person had the driver turn the music up. I was trapped! Jumping out of the car was not an option.
I tried every coping mechanism I could think of. Prayer included. I played Sudoku on my smart phone but it couldn’t take my mind off the pain shooting through me. Tears were streaming down my face. The traffic was bad and only prolonging us getting to our destination.
The person sharing the backseat with me must have noticed the tears and asked me “Do you need a kleenix?” That gave me the opportunity to show someone who was skeptical about my autism of what an autism meltdown looks like. Autism was an alien word to my friend. With my eyes filled with tears, I told her it was the music. She had the driver turn it off. I then whispered to her that sometimes music bothered me and it is my Autism. This time I think she just might have believed me.
After the music stopped, it was as if I had been drowning and I was able to come back up for air. It took me longer to recover because I had been suffering for nearly a half and a hour with the music blaring. I am glad my friend witnessed it though. I have tried so hard to hide my worse symptoms from people around me. That night was so bad that I wasn’t able to do so and it turned out to be a good thing. Come to think of it, my prayer was answered. Just not that way I expected.
I came across a quote about autism that I believes is true. One who doesn’t have autism cannot possibly understand it; those who have it cannot explain it. I cannot explain why I enjoy my music but go into a tailspin to music I didn’t turn on.