Is He Yelling At Me?

September 20, 2017

Ethan Hirschberg with his dad

A few days ago, my dad and I got into an argument. I was watching some television when my dad asked me to get up and take my dogs out to go to the bathroom. Ever since I got my new dog (Bruin) my whole family has been playing, training, and being with him as well as giving attention to my older dog (Asher). I was tired and lazy and all I wanted to do was stay seated since I took the dogs out multiple times in the previous hour. My dad got very upset with me and raised his voice. I also became very upset because he was yelling at me. I later found out that, even though he was loud, he wasn’t yelling. Arguments make me stressed out and this leads to my brain not being able to tell the difference. I become upset because I feel that I’m being yelled at. These feelings that I have are because of two main reasons: auditory sensitivity and my

perception. These things are part of my Autism that contribute to my feeling of stress.

With my Autism, I have heightened senses. My most affected sense is my sense of hearing. I can hear many things (such as subtle sounds) that most people cannot hear. This means that I hear normal sounds louder. So, when my dad was raising his voice, it sounded like a yell. By hearing a yell, I became even more upset than I would have if my dad talked in a stern voice. Nobody likes being yelled at and I wish that my dad could’ve said what he wanted to say in a quieter voice. I have expressed my feelings to him and he is working on it.Also, I perceive things in different ways. My dad raised his voice because he was trying to get his point across that he was upset with me. All that someone “typical” (like my mom)

Ethan Hirschberg's dog
Ethan Hirschberg's dog

sees is a  frustrated dad who’s upset that his son isn’t doing something he was asked to do and is making his voice louder to try to get his son’s attention. I see things differently than others. When I heard his voice, looked at his face, and saw his body language, I got the feeling that he was extremely angry with me. So even though he was just talking loudly, I truly believed that he was yelling straight at me. 

The two things above affected me greatly in this situation. I ended up yelling and slamming things and my brain shut down, unable to process things any further. I am working very hard to better my perception skills but it is very hard to do.

Many other people on the spectrum have this same difficulty. I want to make sure that parents are aware of this when they get upset at their child with Autism. I would say to never yell and lower your voice instead of talking louder. Also, know that your child may not understand your body language. Things such as crossing your arms and glaring are sure ways for your child to get the wrong idea about a situation. Staying calm and having a personal conversation with your child instead of “lecturing” him/her about what he/she did wrong lessens the chance of a misperception in my experience.

Originally posted on The Journey Through Autism.