Sound Sensitivities and Calmer: Faye's Story
Since launching Calmer® we've heard how much they've been helping autistic people with managing noise sensitivities.
Faye was diagnosed with Aspergers at 27 and is involved with her local NHS hospital in assisting them to find better ways of running the children's ward in order to make it easier for those children and their families who are admitted to the ward. She is also involved with the local hospital trust's to help find ways of making the trust's as a whole, more autism friendly. Faye wanted to take part in this case study where she shares her experience of her life and describes some of the different sensitivities she has.
We think Faye's Story is a brilliant and informative read and believe that it will be incredibly helpful for many people.
Thank you Faye!
Find out more about Calmer here
Hi Faye – thank you for talking to us! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I'm Faye, I'm 30 and I have Asperger's. After being diagnosed late in life, I began a journey to start to raise more awareness to the autism spectrum. I wanted to become a voice for those on the spectrum and a face that people could relate to. I want to clear the stereotypes that are sadly attached to those on the spectrum that makes it difficult for us to be accepted into society. I am a mum, a student nurse, I run my own beauty business that I have successfully ran for 4 years, I am an author and I help amongst different areas of support for those on the autism spectrum. When I do get free time, I like to spend it with family, hiking mountains and exploring and going to the gym. I meditate and read books too. I am in the process of building a stronger social media presence to help those on the spectrum find someone they can engage with and relate to day to day.
I was diagnosed late in life at the age of 27, I am now nearly 31. I knew from the age of 3, on my first day of nursery that I was different to the rest of the children. I began to mirror the girls and never joined in games, I just used to spectate. Growing up through school became a huge struggle when I got to high school. Different teachers for each lesson, different rooms for each subject and so on. I could not deal with the constant change and suffered silently. I was bullied and left out of many things throughout my high school years. Moving into adulthood, the world around me gradually got more complex, with many more confusions for me to deal with. Work, relationships, friendships and my overall vulnerability that created a lot of sad times for me. One day I just crashed. This all led me to believe that I was having some kind of mental breakdown and contacted my local mental health referral line and asked for help. After having a telephone consultation, it was mentioned that they did not feel I was having a mental breakdown and that they actually felt it was necessary for me to seek assistance from an adult autism diagnosis specialist. After waiting a year, I attended my first appointment. Two more appointments later and 3 months down the line I had my official diagnosis!
Question: You have written a book and do a lot of work with different support groups – I wondered if you could tell us about some common misconceptions some people have about autism and Aspergers?
Yes, this is correct, my book is: 'Not weird, just limited edition: Inside the autistic mind' and is available on Amazon. I am actively involved in helping within different support settings and my local NHS hospital, to make it a more autism friendly place for everyone. Over the years, I have come across many misconceptions that people have on autism and Asperger's. They range from thinking that there is a certain 'look' being autistic, to thinking we cannot live a 'normal' life (define normal?!). Many people still find it difficult to believe females can be autistic. There are many times people will make comparisons and state that you are not like their 9 year old son etc... and hint that they struggle to believe I am autistic because I'm not like them... Some people believe that you will not amount to anything if you are autistic and that you are debilitated. Hollywood has also made the outlook on being autistic a one way vision. For example, the movie Rain man. So many times I have heard comments such as "Oh so you're like Rain man?! You must be so good at maths!" - I am here to tell you I am NOT good at maths, and I actually have dyscalculia. It took me 10 years to get onto my nursing degree, my biggest setback was spending that time trying to pass high school maths to get accepted into University! I do have a good level of intelligence within the subjects that I enjoy, but maths is not one of them! On many occasions, people have said how sorry they feel that I have Asperger's and often say "oh, have you? I'm really sorry to hear that, you poor thing". This is exactly why I want to do what I am setting out to do. This is why I am striving for a big move into helping people's lives, to help show that these misconceptions are just not so. I am what autistic looks like, just like you can look autistic too! I live as much of a 'normal' life as anyone, sure I get bad days, meltdowns and shutdowns, but I carry on. I have achieved many things in my life and will always continue to do so. I am not like Rain man and I don't want to be pitied for being autistic. I honestly believe that had I not been autistic, that I would not have achieved half of the things I have! It gives me a strong drive for determination to succeed and prove those who misconceive the autism spectrum, wrong.
I have many sensory issues, sound being the main one. This was one of the reasons I struggled in school. The roaring background noise in the dinner hall, the pencils scratching the paper in the classroom, the loud buzz off the bright lights in the exam halls was all too much for me. When I have eaten out in the past (not something I am fond of) I can hear everyone's conversations and I hate it! The only way I can describe it, is if you have ever watched Bruce Almighty, it is the moment he starts hearing prayers in his mind in the restaurant and it's so loud he can't hear himself think - it is just like that! I struggle now if I go out food shopping and it is too busy. I have been one of the few who have actually enjoyed lockdown as I have been able to shop quietly. No hustle and bustle, no overwhelming moments. However, just last week I went to get a few essentials from shopping, it was the busiest it had been in over a year! I was knocked into a shelf, squashed down an aisle. There were so many people rushing around. The noises from people throwing groceries into their baskets and trolleys, the loud hum from the fluorescent lights, the music was too high, people were shouting, the background muffling sounds from people walking around, the tills beeping, carrier bags rustling. It all got too much. I began to stim. My head got light and fuzzy. I forgot what I was there for. My heart began to beat so fast and tears filled my eyes. I got straight back into the car and burst into tears and it affected my mental state for the rest of the day. I'm not great with bright lights either. My main sensory issue is sound though, so I was unbelievably excited when I came across Calmer by Flare Audio!
And finally could you tell us how Calmer has helped you?
As stated earlier, I do like to exercise, hike and explore, so I put Calmer to the test during activities that I regularly undertake. I also suffer terribly with sleep as my hearing is so clear and I pick up every single sound. I have always struggled with sleep, often turning to melatonin to help me drift off. After trying Calmer out over the course of a week, I found that the sounds I want and need to hear are so much clearer and the background noises that cause me so much distress, are almost non-existent and in some cases completely eradicated! I was able to wear them during an outdoor workout. The sound of traffic was almost muted and I could just hear the soft tweetings of the birds in the trees around me. I was able to wear them comfortably under my headphones as I went for a run and they stayed in comfortably and securely. I hiked a mountain and it was the most beautiful experience. I couldn't hear the background fuzz of the wind and was able to sit at the top of a mountain in silence. I wore them for bed too, they stayed put through the night and were very comfortable. I could no longer hear any distant cars passing or house sounds (boiler noises etc.) and so I was able to drift off to sleep with no melatonin required! Calmer has given me a new lease of life, bringing my overall anxiety levels down and I am not as overwhelmed when out in public. I can carry out activities I enjoy without the added stress of worrying about sensory overload. I can't thank Flare Audio enough for making my life a more enjoyable one. Calmer will be carried around with me everywhere from now on. Thank you
Thank you Faye!
Fayes book Not weird, just limited edition: Inside the autistic mind is available on Amazon here.
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