Looking for quiet

It’s been a nice day here in Sussex today, and my foot finally seems to be on the mend, so I thought I’d go on a trip out to try and manage my anxiety. It always gets worse when I’m housebound – although I’m definitely not the fittest person in the world, I find physical activity calming. So it’s difficult for me when I can’t walk.

Today’s excursion was to Bodiam Castle. Which is a lovely place in lovely surroundings. Well, it was from what I could see…

I couldn’t stay for too long. There was an incredibly noisy group who kept shouting and it was simply too much for me from a sensory perspective. I had to leave.

And this is where it gets difficult and controversial.

The group were all disabled. I don’t know what condition(s) they had. I do know that their behaviour and volume was probably not in their control. So it’s not as though I could ask anyone to get the group to be quiet (unlike an unruly school trip, for instance).

I’ve come across this difficulty before – ironically, with some autistic people who have noisy tics.

I don’t know what the answer is. To manage my own disability, I need quiet and calm.

But there are people whose disability means that they are noisy.

So who “wins”?

There’s been a lot of publicity about various autism-friendly cinema screenings and theatre productions recently. I love theatre, in particular, but the sound effects and lighting can be difficult for me. So you’d think that one of these would be perfect for me.

But what you get – and I have tried one of the cinema screenings – are people moving around and being vocal. They can’t help it. But I can’t deal with that. My ideal would, I suppose, be an environment where everyone knows and abides by conventional theatre / cinema rules – just with the sensory aspects ‘dialled down’. That would be my ‘autism-friendly’ production.

I suppose it’s the autistic version of the introvert v. extrovert conundrum: that the world organises itself for noisy people.

I really hope I get my new earplugs soon…

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

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