Of Spice, Epicureanism, and Masochism: Confessions of an Aspergian Food Lover

(Note: although  WWA is officially on hiatus,  a recent experience inspired me to write this and share it with my readers. Enjoy. — Nicole)

One day this past week, my fiancé and I went to Lotus Grill, a Chinese eatery that is near where I work. A few weeks back, the owner’s son had given us a Chinese menu, which is a little different than the standard American menu that is on the wall next to the cash register/ordering area and the printed menus out on the counter. My fiancé and I have gotten to know the owner and her son, and we are pretty frequent visitors.

I decided to try one of the items on the Chinese menu. Since we can’t read Chinese, I asked him to recommend something spicy with chicken in it. He recommended what I would best call Hot Pepper Chicken Version 1, mainly because it differs from the version on the restaurant’s American menu. The dish has chicken, jalapeno peppers, green onion, Napa cabbage, bok choy, mushrooms, and ginger with a sauce made from soy, peppercorns, and vinegar. Needless to say it is very savory, salty, and FLAMING HOT. Below is a picture of what I ate (mind you, I’d eaten nearly half of it already, but I wanted to at least give you a visual):

Hot Pepper Chicken Version 1

And I was in Heaven.

This might surprise you, coming from an Aspie. Or it might not. I’ve encountered other Aspies talk about their sensory issues with food, and I’ve seen all different kinds of responses about what others can and cannot tolerate. I don’t have many sensory issues involving food except that I tend to dislike anything with an overly mushy texture (hence, I hate liver). But I LOVE spicy food.

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To Med or Not to Med

 I know how you
move into me. You come
in tides, squeezing through every pore
like nightfall that doesn’t know how to stay put. You don’t know
how you rip apart my senses, bleeding glorias as you
pass though me in double osmosis.
(From my poem, “Touch”)

If you’re reading this post and are on the autism spectrum, you’re already aware (in some cases painfully) of how sensitive our nervous systems are. This sensitivity affects many aspects of our lives, from difficulty tolerating sensory stimuli to impaired ability in handling stress, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts.  I’m going to deal with the sensitive (no pun intended) subject of using medication (such as SSRIs, other classes of antidepressants, and other kinds of medication that affect mood and brain chemicals) in this post.

From what I’ve observed thus far, this topic has been debated from multiple viewpoints, even outside the autism community. Just Google the subject of antidepressants and autism and I’m sure you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of results. Certainly many of us have heard about overuse of these medications and horror stories about side effects, ineffectiveness of medications, or symptoms worsening – or we may have gone through these experiences ourselves. And of course, there is always the question of who benefits by the medication: there are stories of medical professionals pushing such medications to the parents of children on the autism spectrum in order to make their behavior more “tolerable”. And of course for us adults, there’s also the question of something being for our “own good”.

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Unique Challenges for the Aspie Woman, Part 2: Functioning in a Love Relationship

I consult the dictionary of human behavior every day.
I had to load it into my brain and make it learn
that you open doors with hello and
that you close them with goodbye. I had to learn
the mechanics of when to smile, when to laugh.
(From my poem, “You Don’t See It”)

As a woman, I have been aware (painfully at times) of the expectations that Western society and culture has placed upon us, both past and present. I mentioned some of these expectations in my last post when I talked about Aspie women and our unique challenges navigating the social matrix. Some of those expectations are also applied, along with a few others, to women in the realm of romantic relationships. This week,I will discuss those expectations and the challenges that Aspie women might have meeting them when involved in a close relationship.

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Stress, Anxiety, and the Aspie Woman: Part I

Understand that I am
already peeled open like cables, like
you can see the Morse code walking through me
in light-up footsteps.

(from my poem “Touch”)

By now, you may already understand that the nervous systems of people on the autism spectrum are more sensitive than the average neurotypical – because of this, everything affects us more, from emotion to stimuli. I touched on this in my last post, which discussed empathy and the Asperger person. Consequently, stress affects our nervous systems more and we encounter a very common ailment in our lives: anxiety.

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