Please Don’t Touch Me

It's Not You, It's My PTSD

Memories haunt, words remind, fears remain, but I will survive.

Lately, having people touch me has terrified me. At work is especially hard. People grab my arm or touch my shoulder, making me cringe and long to run.

PTSD is rearing its ugly head again. Should people grab a stranger? No. Am I being overly sensitive? A bit. Is it normal to react this way because of my anxiety? Certainly.

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Ten Things to Say to Someone with Aspergers

The Emphatic Aspergian

The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy. – Meryl Streep

Often, we discuss what bothers us or what we dislike others doing. This can bring about positive change. However, stating what we need and prefer is important too.

One of my most popular post continues Ten Things Not to Say to Someone with Aspergers. For a month or so now, I have wanted to write the opposite side of that post. What are some comments that can be helpful to someone on the autistic spectrum? Thus, this post was born. Hopefully, you will find it informative and relevant.

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One Thousand Thanks: 822 – 832. Soothing and Textile Touches

Petting a cat at the pet store

Soft cats are another touch that I am thankful is in the world.

Biology lab has certain taught me this semester that I am not a kinesthetic learner. All of the information in my head refuses to come out and interact with my experiments. Luckily, our professor lets us work in groups, so others help guide me along throughout the projects.

This turned out to be a huge blessing in disguise. When I mentioned this last minute to my therapist, she correlated it to both my Aspergers and eating disorder. “How does this affect visualizing how much food to have,” she questioned. Eagerly, I told her of my troubles figuring out portion sizes and other tasks because spatial reasoning is so hard for me. After listening carefully, she stated that she would look into different methods to help me with this problem. Having someone from my eating disorder treatment facility work so much to aid me with the struggles Aspergers brings up in my life is amazing. In the past, they have mostly not believed me. This is a great step in the right direction toward recovery.

Anyway, all of that is to say that touch is probably the hardest sense for me. It is frightening and a bit haunting. When people touch me, I tend to pull away although part of me yearns for contact. Certain clothing is difficult to wear, but other fabrics make me so calm. Thus, I am going to discuss those touches that I like despite how overwhelming this sense can be.

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Coping Skill: #55. Paying Attention to the Little Things

leaves

Leaves

Sometimes, we get so stuck in anxiety and worrying about the future that we forget to look around us. Yes, there is much pain and hardship in life. However thousands of little things of beauty surround us each day.

This week, I took a walk a tried to notice some of the details in the world around me. Instead of overlooking a spider on its web, I crouched down and watched it scuttle about, trying to find food. The ripples in the stream were no longer just moving water but a beautiful pattern of flowing liquid. Birds singing and lawn mower growling added a bit of sound that I normal drowned out with music. Experiencing these small things was rather magical. To help you see how much it impacted me, I too some photographs.

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Coping Skill #49. Exploring a New Place

Walking to class at Oxford

Walking to class at Oxford

What I have spent most of my time in Oxford doing is getting lost. Everywhere that I go, I tend to forget how to get back. It seems that I am not alone in this, but it still makes me feel silly.

However, exploring a new place and wandering about can be a great coping skill. That is what I have been doing in this amazing city.

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Coping Skill: #35. Hugging

HugSometimes life is tough, and we need someone to reach out to us in love. This can be done with kind words, caring actions, or an unexpected gift. However, when another human reaches out to touch you physically with love, there can be a huge impact.

Thus, hugs can be a great coping skill. Both receiving and getting them brings a warm, safe feeling. Why is it that this act of embracing each other makes us feel better? I am not sure, but it certainly works for rejoicing over good news or lamenting a difficult day.

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Coping Skills. #13. Calming Touch

LotionMany times situations overwhelm my senses.  Many people who have Aspergers, social-anxiety, bipolar, and other disorders have told me that they feel similarly.  Lights shine too brightly, music blares from the radio, perfume tickles my nose.  However, using sensory stimulation in the right way brings peace and relaxation.

One of the most helpful senses for me is touch.  Now, I often flinch when I am touched.  Temperatures too cold or hot bother me greatly.  As mentioned in a previous post, clothing either feels too loose or too tight.  Certain textures bug me so much that I refuse to put them by my skin.  Some of these are wool, meat, sandpaper, straw and tinfoil.  Thus, I am very sensitive about being touched by people or things.

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Barefoot Since Baby

Barefoot Since Baby

Squeakers smelling my feet.

My mother regularly tells me that I kicked off my socks on the way home from the hospital as a baby.  Ever since then, it has been a struggle for her to make me wear shoes.  Many women and girls I have met discuss their love of shoe shopping and their favorite finds.  I, however, kick mine off whenever possible.

Now, I have heard that many people with Aspergers cannot stand to go barefoot.  The feeling of the ground against their feet is too uncomfortable.  Aspies senses are heightened.  Thus, I cringe and shy away from bright lights, loud music, scratchy clothing, spicy food, and overwhelming smells.  So it would make sense that I would hate feeling the ground underneath my feet, right?

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