See, I know how often Hollywood (generic term for "visual entertainment," easier to type than "TV and movies") screws up... well, everything they touch. I am extremely aware of how badly they misrepresent every sort of law enforcement and issues of Criminal Justice, and more than a little aware that Hollywood as a whole fails all the sciences, forever.
And I'm aware that they screw up medicine and medical issues, badly, constantly, even (yes, I'll say it) dangerously.
Yet... want to know where I got most of my ideas about Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Yup. "Idiot" I said, and "idiot" I meant. My ideas about Autism Spectrum Disorder and those who deal with it mostly came from Hollywood.
So I thought, "hey, I'm not autistic, maybe. Or not very, or not typically."
Thing is, I'm more and more sure that these thoughts were those of a man who was, if you will pardon the expression, full of shit. Except maybe the last part, because I don't have what a couple of medical professionals consider the most common symptoms of ASD, difficulty with eye contact and a huge, single-focus obsession with... something. (Apparently, gaming is too broad to count, as are heroes, reading, writing and even superheros. If it was "D&D and ONLY D&D," or reading the works of one particular author over and over to the exclusion of all others, or "the Flash and no other superhero" etc, so forth and so on, maybe, but none of my real-world obsessions actually qualify as an ASD thing.)
Only, I'm suffering a couple of things that... I dislike talking about, and that are probably symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder. They can be, I know, and they're odd enough that I suspect that they are.
I used to love comic books. Superhero comics especially. I have an insane number of trade paperbacks collecting comic book issues, usually one or two storylines per book, and I recently got back all of those. And I started re-reading them, working through them in an order that was pretty much "favorites first." Then... I stopped. Not because I don't like the stories any more, that's not the problem-- if you've heard me rant about "the Flash," you know that's not the problem.
It's the colors. The action scenes. Those things... bug me, almost hurt, nowadays. There's too much to follow, too many obnoxious color combinations, too much BRIGHT vs. too much DARK. I can only read a couple-three pages before I have to put the book down and go do something that's more... blah. Less riotous, less insane. So far, I haven't had trouble with TV and movies, or not MUCH trouble. I do get a bit overloaded after some things, and I very, very rarely watch two hours of anything straight any more. (Which at least makes it easier to avoid binge-watching things on Netflix. Not much of a silver lining, no, but I'll take it.)
It's not just that. Last weekend, at my grandfather's funeral, I got badly overloaded-- and I only went to the graveside ceremony. But that was held in a tiny little cemetery out in the country, and there were too many people crowded too close together. Despite the somber occasion, there were some bright colors, mostly coats and jackets. And the sounds, the sounds of fall and wind and a whole lot of people murmuring and talking before the thing started, and some people crying, and then the damned prayer, and my brain needed to separate out each individual voice when the "amen" came, and of course I couldn't even begin to do that, not with one two-syllable word. Hell, even my clothes were... were not right. The textures of the slacks and shirt felt too slick, too not-right, and the tie, despite not being very tight at all, felt like it was choking me, and the whole thing just sent me damn near round the bend. I went to my car as soon as it was over, as fast as I could move, and I... well, let's just say that my driving away was not a thing of dignity and decorum, and leave it there.
I sometimes think that this is at the root of my crowd issues, but... no. It doesn't help them, no-- crowd noise, colors, motion, those aren't making things easier, but they aren't the root of that problem, just an exacerbating circumstance.
So, I'm trying harder than ever to avoid crowds, and I'm pretty much giving up something that I really, really loved for a long time. Or mostly giving it up. There's still prose superheroes to be had, thanks to the likes of Peter Clines and his Ex-Heroes series, Seanan McGuire and her Velveteen Versus stories, and, of course, the best of the prose super-beings books, the Wild Cards series, by many and varied, under the leadership of Melinda Snodgrass and George R. R. Martin.
This damned sensitivity to over-stimulation of the senses is not what I would call a good time, but so far, I'm dealing with it. Or at least, I'm trying.