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Needing the silence

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by SimonSays, Apr 10, 2021.

  1. SimonSays

    SimonSays A work in progress V.I.P Member

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    I've talked about needing silence before. At first, this need was just to eliminate the unwanted outside world noises, so it could include listening to music as that is a very effective way of doing this, especially if you also have ANC built-in. But over the last few months, I haven't listened to music outside at all, preferring as much actual silence as I can get. And the more silence I get, the more I like it. I have no problem hearing the wind, or other nature sounds, and yet often when I'm in nature, my earplugs are still in. Even when it comes to changing from my reusable daily earplugs, to night-time disposable ones, I have to do it really quickly, lest too much external noise should make its way in for too long. Is this some kind of OCD?

    There are times when there are things I'd like to watch. Of course I use ear buds for that. But often I choose not to watch anything, just because it would mean removing my very comfortable earplugs which have been providing me with silence all day. So a side effect is I watch a lot less. I only ever watch good documentaries, youtube, or a decent film, anyway, but now I find I watch a lot less because they're just not as good as silence. I read more.

    Obviously it's not possible to eliminate external noise entirely. But I do come close to it sometimes. Certainly traffic noise can be all but eliminated within the house. While the noises of the others I live around, banging doors, etc, still make their way in, but they are muted enough that they are no longer affecting. Does this indicate developing mental health issues? Or is it simply I have found a very effective coping mechanism which many people use daily for various reasons? Sleeping next to a snoring partner becomes possible with earplugs. Eliminating the noisy neighbour becomes possible with earplugs.

    But I know I take it a lot further than most. For example, when I go to pick up a package from an Amazon drop-off point, I don't take my earplugs out. I can deal with everything in the silence, just as if I was hard of hearing. I've got used to it. If I focus on what somebody is saying, the combination of a bit of lip reading and a small amount of audible getting through, it works fine. I often forget I am "hard of hearing" intentionally. There is simply too much sensory input, even naturally, otherwise, without them.

    Not that it matters, but I'm not sure if it's preference or necessity. I know people here use earplugs for similar reasons, in different situations. Does anybody else wear earplugs more than they don't?
     
  2. SimonSays

    SimonSays A work in progress V.I.P Member

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  3. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member

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    No, it's not OCD, but rather an information processing issue. There is a term called "sensory habituation",...basically, it allows us to "ignore" certain sensory stimuli and focus upon another. For example, you are focused upon a specific task, but there is light, sound, temperature, smells, etc that are in the background. Normally, what should happen is that you just focus upon the task at hand,...and the rest just falls in the background. This is, of course, that is assuming the background stimuli doesn't become obnoxious,...your 2 year old comes up to you crying for some reason, the fire alarm goes off,...whatever. I see this at work, with our premature babies,...developmentally, they cannot habituate,...every sensory stimuli comes at them with equal intensity, and it can really set them off and actually be life threatening in some cases. As a care giver, how you do things is every bit as important as what you are doing. We also see small children with autism who also have difficulties with habituation. The common thing we see in the little ones, is holding their hands over their ears or having meltdowns when the environment gets too stimulating. With time, maturity, and adaptation, the brain slowly increases its ability to habituate, and those children often will become better and better equipped to handle the daily environmental stimuli.

    With autism, you can have a few things going on as an adult,...it can be: (1) a diminished inability to habituate,...the brain is still dealing with sensory overstimulation, (2) a thalamo-cortical dysrhythmia,...constant ringing in the ears, visual snow, etc.,...in which case, silence may bring that ringing in the ears to the forefront and actually cause discomfort, or (3) some combination of the two,...in which case,...you're one unfortunate soul. Personally, I lean towards #2, but can still have a bit of sensory overload,...light and sound sensitivity. I need just enough background noise to overshadow the ringing in my ears, but I don't like loud noises, either. I have visual snow, and am somewhat light sensitive.

    So,...you do you. Whatever gets you through your day.
     
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  4. Wolfsage

    Wolfsage In training to be Wolf King.

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    Listening to the Sounds of Silence. Disturbed.

    I know you don't mean that silence. But, there was an opening.:p

    Yes. Sometimes it is better to listen to silence. It is a needed element in life.
    Underwater silence is otherworldly. You feel something larger then yourself there. A connection with monumental forces.
     
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  5. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    I used to live in a house in the countryside, with 30-inch thick stone walls. That was beautiful silence. I miss it so much. I'm not suffering in any way, though. It was just one of the many things I loved about that house.

    I don't think it's pathological to like some silence!
     
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  6. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    The visual snow and ringing in the ears are things I've experienced.
    They were at their worse around puberty.

    The visual snow gradually left. Now I only occasionally experience it if very stressed or anxious.
    Sometimes I get optical migraines where I don't have a headache or any pain, but, a silver
    zig-zaggy thing forms in my vision and takes about half an hour to dissapear.
    Doctors say they are harmless.
    It is the hypothalamic- pituatary corticol axis I was told.

    I used earplugs for a few years around age 13. Only when I went somewhere though where
    there were traffic sounds or people in numbers talking at once.
    I've always loved some music in the background from baby up.
    The problem I find with silence is I hear the tinnitus- ringing ears more.
    I don't like that sound. Yet setting here at night in the quiet, I enjoy the silence.
    Yet I still like light music background other times as I don't hear the ear ringing
    and it stills my mind for sleep.
     
  7. Alexej

    Alexej Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Often when I go for a walk in the morning I will listen to a podcast, but then I need to be aware also of the sounds in nature around me. So sometimes I will unplug from the podcast and listen to nature.


    Today I heard the dew dripping off the leaves of plants in a field onto the ground. I dont think I have ever heard that before - that dripping from leaves.
     
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