When Tucker was first diagnosed, his OT provided THE BEST description of what he was experiencing.
She said, ‘Most brains are like a colander.’ What does that mean? Well it means that most of us can filter out everything that surrounds us. So we can sit in a classroom and ignore the lights, the sounds, the child drumming his pencil, the colors of the posters, the hum of the furnace, and the smell of the wet mittens. Children who have sensory issues cannot. They cannot focus, much less function at a high level.
Tucker’s colander is missing. Everything in the environment affects him – smells, lights, sounds, feelings, everything. Our brains filter out the ‘unimportant stuff’ his cannot do this.
For the first time I really understood. I used to HATE going to Best Buy. I never really understood why until that moment. No offense to Best Buy – but it’s too much for me. The shine of the refrigerators, the music from the stereos, the lights from the computer screen, the noise from the home theaters, the shimmer of the floor, the brightness of the lights. It was always too much for me. Now, I knew why. Now I could understand how Tucker felt. It’s just that he didn’t feel it in Best Buy. He felt it most of the time.
For the first time, I understood why he screamed all the way through Target. The lights, the people, the smells, the noise.
For the first time, I understood why he hid his face in his shirt at Wal Mart. The sounds, the shine of the floor, the closed in aisles, the shelves of stuff.
For the first time, I understood why he would hide underneath the tables in a restaurant. The noise, the waiters walking by, the various smells going by on the trays, the decorations on the wall, the music, the clanking of the glasses.
Can you imagine? If all of this is falling into your brain – how do even begin to concentrate? and why he hid in his shirt in Wal-Mart. I understood why others didn’t see/know my sweet, kind, calm Tucker. Several sensory battles are in this book. Those we have won and the battles we are still working through.
If you are curious and wonder what this experience is like watch this video from Miguel Jiron (© 2012). The video was, ‘created as part of Mark Jonathan Harris’ and Marsha Kinder’s “Interacting with Autism.”‘
FULL CREDITS LIST:
Director and Animator:
Produced and Developed by:
Scott Mahoy, Creative Director of Interacting with Autism
Sound Designer & Mixer:
Produced for Interacting with Autism
For more information visit:
Mark Jonathan Harris, Shelbi Jay Kepler, Mike Patterson, Candace Reckinger, Kathy Smith