Autistic Story #1: Scary Radio and Tape Sounds

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As an autistic child, I was scared of most loud or startling noises. Most of these sounds were on either the radio or tapes, specifically Raffi tapes. There were two songs on one of my Raffi tapes that either started or ended very softly, and thus startled me when they all of a sudden got louder. There was also the song “Joshua Giraffe,” which had some very strange laughter at the end. Since that laughter is kind of similar to Santa’s laugh, this song made me afraid of Santa Clause later on. It also made me dislike any part of a Raffi song sung by the same chorus that did this laughter, since I recognized their voices.

The sounds on the radio that scared me included pauses, a baby crying in a lullaby, and voices coming from a long distance, though the latter stopped being scary and started being funny very quickly. I started being afraid of pauses one evening when my dad and I were dancing in the kitchen. The first pause I didn’t notice, but my dad explained it to me anyway, telling me what a pause was. I was confused, thinking he meant the paws on a kitty cat. Then, when the music stopped again, he mentioned that it was a pause. I still thought he was talking about kitty cat paws until the music came on again and startled me. I was frightened, and the fact that I was expecting soft kitty cat paws just made it worse. From then on I did not like songs with pauses. This was especially true of instrumental music, because when a song had words I understood, I learned to expect when the person would stop singing and start again. With instrumental music I had no voice to follow, so I never knew when the music would start or stop.

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