(what can I say? I love alliteration!)
I’m 47 and although I only found out about my Asperger’s last year I’ve known pretty much since the age of 5 I was different. I was born with congenital anosmia. That is, The complete and utter absence of ANY sense of smell what so ever.
When I was being born, My mum was in the ward and my dad was outside watching the live broadcast of the Apollo 13 launch on BBC 2 . My claim to fame? I’m 5 minutes “younger” than Apollo 13. However, neither my mum nor dad expected to be there … I was 8 weeks early.
To be fair, to this day I still don’t know if either my anosmia or my Asperger’s were caused by my being 2 months premature. It was a very worrying time for my parents but (obviously) I survived and thrived into adulthood.
I don’t know when I first really realised I had no sense of smell. I didn’t know what it was so therefore didn’t know I didn’t have it. I guess that sounds odd but as a child you see someone inhaling through their nose and saying something smelt nice. So I’d do the same, I guess I thought that’s what you had to do. Inhale air through your nose and tell someone they smell nice. Growing up without ANY sense of smell hasn’t been easy but then it hasn’t really been difficult either. It’s different, I’ll grant you that. I’ve been ill due to food poisoning many times from eating cold meat that’s gone off (I was vegetarian for 9 years due to that XD) I no longer drink milk straight from the carton (for obvious reasons that’ll be apparent if you think about it for a second) I have smoke and gas alarms ALL OVER the house and I NEVER wear deodorant or aftershave. I like being clean (overly so.. to the point of it being a problem to be honest) but I NEVER use anything with a perfume. I use plain unscented soap and nothing else.
However, something odd happened. Some doctors think it’s due to my lack of smell. My brain has extra “processing space” available. Some doctors think it’s part of my Asperger’s side (at least since last year) but I have incredibly acute hearing, My wife goes as far as calling it almost superhuman. I found out about that in more detail when I started employment in an off shore engineering company. I went for a full medical which included a hearing test. Apparently I shocked the doctor as I was pressing the button on hearing the test tones which were used to calibrate the equipment. I hear things long before most people and I find sounds more uncomfortable than most.
These three conditions, Asperger’s, Anosmia and my Auditory anomalies mean I’ve felt both cut off from the world and besieged by it simultaneously. I cannot connect to things the way you do. I may as well be enclosed in a smell proof impermeable bubble. I feel I can never actually connect to something. Conversely the world is a cacophonous place. Right now I hear the fan hum of the air conditioning, the clack clack clack of the keyboards of everyone in the office, the guy in the cubicle next to me breathing and sighing, two conversations at the far end of the office (I’m on lunch by the way XD) and traffic noises outside. I wear headphones which play white noise to block out distractions. When I have one of my occasional migraine attacks my hearing explodes into full blown Hyperacusis and every sound causes me pain.
Like all things I see both my hearing and anosmia as blessings AND curses. They each give me benefits and they each cause problems. I’ve been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum for less than a year now. I suppose I should see this in the same light and treat my Asperger’s as a blessing and a curse too. I’m still getting to terms with my diagnosis. It’s not 100% part of me or my life story yet but I’m fitting it in. Being able to share my story people like you helps enormously.
Thank you for being here.