Thursday, April 09, 2009

Now Let's Play: Name That Smell!

There's a new post on my homeschool blog about Learning Styles. It's short, sweet and you want to read it. Now go. It's ok, we'll wait...

One of the hallmarks of autism is an extremely acute sense of smell. This can be a problem at times, because it makes food unpalatable and causes embarrassing situations. My 7 year old has a keen sense of the olfactory. She cannot stand to have me close to her before I brush my teeth in the morning, or after drinking coffee. (as you might imagine, since I run on coffee, this makes mornings challenging) She wants cuddles but doesn't want me to breathe. Have you ever tried to keep from breathing? It's not good for your health! 100% of the people who stop breathing? DIE.

Some other quirks: The garbage has to be taken out often, or she has to stay out of the kitchen. Cat food and vienna sausage (aren't those pretty much the same thing??) make her gag. The smell of body, clean or dirty, can make her antsy and complaining.

If she is around an offending smell, she cannot shut it off, and will often proclaim loudly how icky it is.
Embarrassment, thy name is JBean. Yes. It is. She doesn't like perfume, and smells that you may consider pleasant make her highly agitated. And, she is going to let you know about it. A lot. (we are working on this, I assure you...but she is only 7.

an aside...because autism is a developmental delay, my chid may appear to be 7, but acts more like 5. Think of a dog being 3, and in Dog Years, that's 21 or so. Autism Years are similar...except backwards. Confused? That's ok, now you are in the state I live in. Wait, you say, I thought you lived in California...? Yeah. Shut up and let me get back to my story. Geez.

Proving there is no rhyme or reason when it comes to autism, my son is exactly the opposite of my daughter. Smells that most reasonable people would find repellent, such as gasoline, tar, sulphur, rubber tires...he finds soothing and stimulating. While one is trying to keep her lunch down while refusing to inhale, the other is breathing deeply.

I am what is known as a "super-taster." I have an overdeveloped sense of smell and taste. I don't wear perfume (have only ever found two that I can tolerate without an instant headache) and highly perfumed anything is something I avoid. Being trapped in an elevator with a woman wearing perfume is a horror of mine. But there are scents I like: lavender, vanilla, chocolate. Most candles from Illuminations, at least the food scents, I love. And citrus anything is ok, too. I am not keen on the smell of flowers, unless they are actually naturally growing. Body wash in florals make me sick.

All that to say, I have no idea where my children got their sense of smell. Probably off the turnip truck they fell from, I would imagine. No wonder the kids don't like turnips.

T, who wears perfume about twice a year

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