You know how when you set a microphone to maximum sensitivity, to the point where you can practically hear the dust mites on your desk farting, then you accidentally bump it, and it’s like the dust mite defense corps are testing hydrogen bombs inside your ear canal?
Imagine for a moment, that both your ears are microphones like that. Imagine that all your other senses -sight, smell, touch, taste- are similarly super-sensitive. Now consider how this might complicate even the simplest of daily tasks.
Take going down the street; you might slouch and look down because bright sunlight reflecting off glass or metal is maddening. Every car that travels passed feels like it’s snarling at you, the sound of its engine clawing at your eardrums. As each car passes, its oily fumes drench the inside of your nose, throat, and lungs, and you feel like vomiting right there in the street. (One interesting example that I don’t experience myself but have seen multiple times is people on the spectrum who find dogs frightening; not because they worry about being bitten, but because they associate dogs with the sensory agony of loud barking)
The world scrapes over and around you like so much sandpaper, wearing you down.
This is what it can be like for some people on the spectrum. Simply coping with the constant assault of overwhelming sensory stimuli can be exhausting. To an external observer, it might seem like that person is just lazy or breaks down over nothing, but to that person, it’s like their whole body is an exposed nerve. Everything is raw, unfiltered. The whole world just pours into them.
This can be challenging to say the least. But on the flipside, it can also be an advantage. This same sensitivity can allow people who experience the world this way to pick up on tiny details or patterns that others may not notice, or perhaps appreciate them in a different way. Speaking for myself, sounds like a car horn or a whistle feel like an ice pick being stabbed through my eardrum, but this same strong reaction to sounds means that I find the sound of rain, clinking glass, or rustling paper very relaxing and enjoyable.
As ever of course, I can only speak for myself, but while I certainly think that the difficulties of sensory processing challenges should be more widely known and appreciated, I find that like most things in life, heightened sensory sensitivity has positive as well as negative aspects to it.
A very sensitive microphone might not respond well to being bumped or shouted into, but if you want to record a whisper, this same sensitivity becomes an invaluable asset.