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Q of the day – phobias and eccentricities

Something light to discuss here, since there’s plenty to rant about in the post below on the Washington wingnut cavalcade


Do you have any phobias — ones that you would consider debilitating?

Do you have an eccentricity that other folks might find strange?

For instance, I like wearing cotton, or rather, I have a real problem with clothes that aren’t made of 100% cotton. The feel of 100% polyester or wool, even though the latter is a natural fiber, makes me nuts. I can even look at an item on the rack and know whether I want to touch it or not. I can handle some blends for a limited time (after all, most dressier clothing has some sort of unnatural fiber in it) even then, I can’t wait to get out of those clothes and into — ahhhhhh…cotton. I also hate tags that rub (they drive me to distraction) — those are the first to go when I get an article of clothing home.

Kate thinks it’s amusing. She also says that this phenomenon, in an extreme form, is not uncommon in some of the kids she works with who have autism. It’s a tactile/sensory integration issue — oversensitivity of the nervous system, if you will. I don’t know. All I know is that I know is that it is just one of my eccentricities that I accept because it no means rises to a “Monk”-level of debilitation.

I don’t have any of the phobias that people commonly have — flying, heights, snakes. I don’t like spiders, but I don’t flee at the sight of one. Maybe that’s less about the insect than the horror I feel thinking about running into a web (that tactile thing again).

OK. I don’t like flying roaches, but I cannot imagine that anyone does, particularly our family TV weatherman friend.

On the PBS web site there is a feature, Growing Up Different, with an essay by Temple Grandin, an adult with autism, who describes a more extreme version of this tactile issue.

Small itches and scratches that most people ignored were torture. A scratchy petticoat was like sandpaper rubbing my skin raw. Hair washing was also awful. When mother scrubbed my hair, my scalp hurt. I also had problems with adapting to new types of clothes. It took several days for me to stop feeling a new type of clothing on my body; whereas a normal person adapts to the change from pants to a dress in five minutes. Many people with autism prefer soft cotton against the skin. I also liked long pants, because I disliked the feeling of my legs touching each other.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding