I was recently back in New York City presenting at NYU. I really enjoy my trips up to NYC. Greenwich Village is very exciting. Compared to where I live, there is so much traffic and vehicles to look at. Honestly, many people may find the crowds and traffic stressful. For me, however, I find that it lessens my anxiety because I can focus my mind on something that really interests me – noises, cars, trucks and cabs. Sometimes I find that with focusing on those things, I can even forget about other things that are hard for me in the city because of my sensory issues. I honestly really like the city because there is so much automation. There are mechanisms moving everywhere moving and I like seeing and hearing that. Different cars can be picked out by the way the engines run. I can know what car will be coming before I see it and then I see it and it is fun to know I picked it out and was right. For example cabs sound different that trucks and some big cars sound different than smaller cars. I can sometimes even hear a bike coming. All of the mechanical noises help to keep me focused and I don’t care about the crowds because of it.
I often fell anxious before presentations and just walking through the city is calming. I find that I can get lost in the crowd and no one notices that I move different or act different because there are so many people around and that is sort of nice every so often. Plus, the mechanical noise is increased so much that I cannot pick out individuals so it is much less likely to take away my attention from trying to listen to what they may say about me and that is relaxing. In many ways this is like some airports. So many people doing things in a hurry and running and trying to get somewhere that they do not notice me.
That is one of my concerns. I know because of my motor plans that I have movements that seem a bit awkward or I may do things that seem a bit odd to others to satisfy a sensory need and because of this, I feel like I am being stared at and try to listen to see if I can hear what others may be saying about me. For example, in hockey I feel like all eyes are on me. I don’t like that and it gets me very stressed even though I have fun skating. I feel like everyone is watching the different ways I move around so I want to move in a way that looks right. Just skating around and not getting in the middle of things where I may look like I move differently.
So, sometimes it is nice to get lost in a crowd. It can be relaxing. However, I think it is also important for others to realize that there are others out there who may move differently or who may do things that seem odd to a neurotypical person. Understanding and empathy needs to increase and that is one of my goals when writing this blog… to let people know and make them aware of us.