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Autism: Stressed at the Movies

12 Dec

Though I had few plans for the day (basically have a slightly earlier supper and go to the movies) I was extremely anxious the entire day. This happens sometimes; I get anxious… really anxious, and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for it. I wanted to go to this movie especially: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The anxiety, however, didn’t make it an easy thing for this.

Summer 2015 011

It was great that my husband was able to get off early. He usually doesn’t get home until 6pm despite getting off work at 5:30 with a 7 minute drive home, but he was home at 5:15. The movie started at 6:30, and supper was ready at 5:45. Plenty of time for him to shower, eat, and be ready to go for 6pm I thought. Yet he is a slow eater, made slower by the book he reads as he eats…

At 6:04 my son and I were at the door putting our shoes on, after having brushed teeth and all else to prepare to go. My husband was just getting up to put the leftovers for his lunch away. We went out to the van to find that the back seat was not installed properly (they remove, and we usually don’t all go places together.) Apparently it was loose the last time all three of us went out together, but my son didn’t say anything. Danger!

I was working on that, but it was really dark in the back of the van, even with the interior lights on. I couldn’t seem to get it in right, and the time was ticking by. It was 6:13 before all was set and we could leave for the theater.

As usual, I was stressed about being late. Sure, we would have gotten down there by 6:30, but we still had tickets to buy, and I am particular about where I am able to sit. At the movies, it means near the back of the theater, where there is quite a height difference between one row and the next. Everywhere else I tend to choose the very front.

Knowing I was stressed out about timing, my husband drove faster than usual – but the road from our house to the theater is full of twists and turns, all of which he took too fast, which added quite bad motion sickness to my strong anxiety and stress levels.

We got our tickets fast enough – only because for whatever reason people were confused that night and lined up all in one line leaving the other empty. Even so, when we got into the theater, there were no back seats available, and we had to sit in the older section closer to the screen.

We walked past a few people to get to our seats, even though I had indicated to my husband that I would sit on the end three seats one row down – but he was already going through, and I couldn’t get his attention. Walking past the people, I bumped into one – and of course started beating myself up over my clumsiness. Not a great way emotionally to enjoy what we had gone there for.

Sitting in the seat, I looked up at the advertisements on the screen, and was overcome by dizziness. The screen was too big from that spot. Then, a couple of advertisements in, the sound suddenly seemed to double. It hurt my ears, bad, and I covered them with my hands.

“Do you need earplugs?” my husband asked me.

“I am really hoping this was a mistake, and they will turn it down,” I replied.

The sound remained at that level for the rest of the advertisements, and the first couple of trailers, but it did (thankfully) work itself out. By that point, I was in really bad sensory overload, and was heading fast toward a meltdown.

The movie started, and the first couple of minutes had a lot of motion, and a lot of changing scenes. I was feeling really sick, and had to make a tunnel out of my hands to block out some of it. I didn’t want to miss the movie, and taking off my 3-D glasses (on a side note, I get less dizziness from the new 3-D than I used to from the 2-D movies) didn’t help as it made the picture really fuzzy.

Anyway, things slowed down after that, and I very, very much enjoyed watching that movie. There are times, however, when I strongly wish this sensory aspect of Autism were removed from me. Until then, we will have to ensure that we get to the theater on time, in the future, to get the good seats.

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