The Way I See It. An increasingly-personal account of the world as seen by someone with Asperger’s. I am not a special snowflake, so surely others feel the same way. All the same, I am not speaking on behalf of any group or movement.
Asperger’s isn’t contagious. A late diagnosis is a realization of what’s been there all along, plus a chance to understand yourself better. And hopefully, to more intelligently deal with situations that are yet to come.
So driving. Over years–decades–I had been noticing the will to drive less and less. I got a license as a teen because it was just what you did. I never liked driving, and ended up avoiding it whenever possible. I ended up buying a house right on a light rail line. When I landed a job that was a a ninety-minute commute (including a solid 30 minutes of walking, each way) from public transport, I still chose that over getting behind the wheel. For my current day job, I generally don’t drive in at all. I am super-thankful for the company shuttle program.
What’s so bad about driving? It’s stressful. I can do it, but it takes a lot out of me. It feels overwhelming, almost like a physical pressure, and it gets worse by the minute. The open highway isn’t so bad, but city and rush hour traffic are like the trash compactor scene in Star Wars. There’s important things happening, potentially abruptly, on every side, and my eyes can only look in one direction at a time.
I was at a conference recently that was going for a “fun” vibe so in a huge meeting room full of sitting attendees, they unleashed several beach balls for people to bat around. Getting hit by a beach ball itself doesn’t stress me out, but here I could hardly stand it, knowing that inflated impact could happen from any direction at any second. Maybe that’s what hypervigilance feels like. I know at least one other person in the room felt the same way–I watched him stand up, grab one of the beach balls, and deflate it.
Take that same pressed-in sensation, and apply it to the domain of driving. Cars are legitimately more dangerous–two-thousand-pound steel boxes instead of springy beach balls. Sometimes it amazes me that anyone puts up with this at all.
Until recent discussions with the right professionals, I had no idea why this trend was happening, only that it was. Same goes for other sensory issues, like feeling overloaded in a room full of talking people, or inability to wear certain fabrics because of itchiness, but this gets boring quickly.
My advice to any readers wondering about similar situations in their own life is: it’s always worth it to learn more about yourself. Seek out a trusted professional and initiate a frank discussion.