If your autistic son or daughter loathes certain clothes or food, it may not be the colour or the taste that’s bothering them.
For instance, you know what really gets my goanna? Avacado. Bananas too. Can’t stand ’em. It’s not the taste so much, it’s the texture. They’re slimy, and it makes my skin crawl.
Sensory issues can be one of the biggest challenges of living on the autism spectrum. Wearing clothes that feel too coarse, or even too soft, or eating something that feels slimy or dry, can be like having a barrel of centipedes poured over you.
I actually heard of one kid on the spectrum who would sleep on the floor, hit herself, and even beg her parents to hit her as hard as they could, because to her being touched softly was unbearable.
What can exacerbate the problem is that the sufferer may have trouble communicating just how torturous it is. They may say “I hate bananas/that shirt”, but the lack of a common frame of reference can lead a non-autistic parent or friend to assume this is a mild strain of dislike, the way we might say we “hate” man buns or Mondays. Kids on the spectrum also may not yet realize that people off the spectrum don’t experience the world the same way they do, so they expect the non-autistic listener to instinctively understand the agony that can come from heightened sensory sensitivity.
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was able to explain to my mother that while I loved going to the beach, the feeling of sand sticking to my wet skin afterwards drove me batcrap crazy, or that having cold vegetables and hot meat in the same meal made me want to Falcon Punch an antique vase worth more than our house.
When someone on the spectrum seems insistently opposed to something that seems harmless, don’t write it off as them being fussy or pedantic; it may seem harmless to you, but to them it could be incredibly uncomfortable.