Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Affection- A Sensory Fairy Tale

Image from stockfresh
Not too long ago, in the kingdom of Autism, lived Princess Crazy, of the Crazy Train Crazies, and Birdie, her Not-A-Princess twin.  While ruling the land of Second Grade in Kingdom Autism, the lovely Princess Crazy was quite the stingy girl.  Where most all the other children in her kingdom were willing to hug and kiss and say hello, Princess Crazy would go out of her way to avoid activities such as these, deeming them an "invasion of her personal space".  *gasp*  Right up to the end of her reign in Second Grade, the princess would not bestow her love and affection on the grown-ups in her kingdom, with the exception of an elite few.  (Quite frankly, it seemed that most of the grown-ups that did receive Princess Crazy's hugs and kisses were grown ups upon which she depended for food, shelter, transportation, and good grades... but I digress.)
Princess Crazy, sporting
Gary the Snail in her crown

Now you would think that Not-A-Princess Birdie-- being Princess Crazy's twin-- would have been just like her sister in the love department.  However, in the land of Second Grade, this was far from the truth.  Where Princess Crazy would shun physical contact, Not-A-Princess Birdie would welcome a friendly embrace.  She wasn't a big fan of kisses (you just never know what a person might put in their mouth, after all), but she rarely turned down a hug.  Completely different, those two. 

Fast forward a year, to a new land and a new era.

In the land of Third Grade, Princess Crazy seems to have turned a new leaf.  Previously a ruler with a hard line on frivolous affection, Princess Crazy traded the love drought in for an abundance of hugs for all!  Every grown up that Princess Crazy encounters gets tackled with her enthusiastic embrace!  This drastic change was quite disconcerting to the people of the land at first, being that they were accustomed to being shunned by their Princess.  To make things even more disconcerting, the once very affectionate Not-A-Princess Birdie has been playing it a bit cooler in the land of Third Grade.  

Not-A-Princess Birdie,
the pirate phase
But do not be alarmed, Fair People of Third Grade, for all is truly well.  In the kingdom of Autism, it is quite normal for our ruler's affection levels to change with the tide.  Many who have not lived in our fair kingdom for long do not realize what a touchy thing affection can be.  And by touchy, I mean sensory, Fair People.  Let me explain.

For the rulers of Kingdom Autism, every one of their five senses is just like yours and mine, only much, much MORE.  Images are brighter and sharper.  Sounds are louder and more overwhelming, and often all run together.  Smells are stronger.  Tastes are more intense.  Touch is often very distracting or very comforting, depending on the source, and even the lightest touch can seem like too much some times!  

Because our Dear Rulers have such intense senses, their brains try very hard all the time to make these senses manageable.  Princess Crazy and Not-A-Princess Birdie usually do very well to make sense of all this information they receive, but sometimes one of their five senses gets "irritating", for lack of a better word.  When the sense of touch gets particularly irritating, the love well usually dries up in that Ruler.  It's nothing personal, I assure you.

Think about a hug for a moment, Fair People.  When someone hugs you, you can feel the heat of their body, the texture of their clothes, the chilliness of their jewelry, the movement of their hair, and possibly their fingernails.  They may pat you on the back or peck your cheek, too.  While hugging them, you may smell their shampoo, soap, perfume, lotion, deodorant (or lack thereof), cosmetics, hairspray, the coffee they spilled on their shirt, or their breath.  If these smells are strong enough, you may even feel like you can taste them in the back of your mouth. You may hear the hugger talking from a closer perspective, hear them breathing, hear their jewelry jingling, or hear their hair rustling.  You see the hugger as they approach you and invade your personal space, and you may focus on the mole on the hugger's nose or the spinach caught in their teeth, which you know you will then smell in a moment.  Now realize, Fair Ones, that all this information comes at you in a matter of seconds.  You may not even realize you are getting all of this information when you hug someone, but Princess Crazy and Not-A-Princess Birdie do!  To our Dear Rulers, a hug is very much like a sensory bomb!  So, Fair People, do not be offended when a hug is just too much for one of our Fair Ladies, for they are probably just feeling a bit overwhelmed by physical contact.  Or they think you smell.  (But just so you know, if it were your scent, they'd probably just let you know.  Unfortunately.)

So, Fair People of the land of Third Grade, do not despair when your affection is happily accepted one day and shunned the next.  You are still loved.  You may just need to find another way to show our Dear Rulers how much you care.  Hugs and kisses may not be the answer today, but a high five is almost always welcomed.  And just when you think the hug drought will never end, you'll be getting the stuffin' squeezed out of you by one of our Fair Ladies.

And the whole kingdom lived... ever after.



  1. What a great story to help those if us that are unaware ofthe sensitivity of others. I didn't even realize I was gathering that much info from hugs either.

  2. Hail O'Conductor!!! Ye hath given all the Fair People of the Land of Third Grade much to ponder. Your wisdom will enable the subjects of Kingdom Autism to flourish. Bravo! Hip hip hoorah!!!!!

  3. lol that was super cute and creative! wish i could be! loved the article on your loved one! xoxoxo

  4. We (me and my NY partner in crime) were just fondly talking about Princess's change in affectionate behavior. After being deprived for the past two years, we love the hugs! Let Princess know she can "tackle" me anytime ;-)