In some of my reading about AS, I saw it mentioned that the “core issues” of AS are the social issues. The sensory issues, while still important, were apparently of lesser impact. I disagree with this take, and I feel like talking about it.
First of all, I think picking one category out of the various things AS impacts, and calling that category the “core issue” is somewhat of a flawed way of looking at it. However, that is probably due to my own rather odd thought patterns. I really need to accept that deciding on a “core thing” is something that people like to do. So putting that aside for a bit, I don’t think that the social issues are the core issues at hand. I certainly think they are significant, and I suppose they seem like the major thing from the outside because that’s what people are more likely to see. However, from my subjective viewpoint, it’s the sensory issues that have the biggest impact. (of course, the social issues are a huge deal too, and I don’t mean to say that they aren’t for me)
See, whether or not any given social issue is something I need to worry about depends on whether or not I’m actually trying to socialize. And when it comes right down to it, I only try to socialize a minority of the time. When I do socialize, I can learn patterns and ways of doing things, and then follow those patterns. It isn’t perfect, but I am actually able to pass for normal much of the time. However, I can never get away from my sensory issues. They are with me all the time, and they affect my life in almost every area. What I eat, what I wear, how I sit, what blankets I can have on my bed, and on and on and on. I can never take a break from them the way I can take a break from people. Not really.
Another big way I look at it is how the social and sensory issues interact. My social issues don’t really have much of an impact on my sensory issues. My sensory issues, on the other hand, have a HUGE impact on my social issues. Sometimes I can’t deal with people touching me, and I have to say so. I can never tolerate people touching or stroking me lightly, which has had an impact on some of my relationships with people. I can’t handle parties at all due to both social and sensory issues. While I may, someday, learn enough of the social dance to handle unstructured social occasions (I doubt it, but I suppose unliklier things have happened), that won’t change the problems I have with overwhelming sensory input. I can, on a really good day, deal with one OR the other (I have had good experiences at concerts on rare occasions), but both? No way.
Honestly, I don’t really like to prioritize one class of difficulty over another, but this shows that I can easily make the argument that sensory issues are “core.” I wonder what other people think.