As with most symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome, my sense of smell can be a gift and a curse. While it does come in handy when I go wine tasting with my parents or when I visit the Hershey’s Chocolate Factory, it can be quite unwelcome when I am passing through the perfume department of the mall or when I try to eat any new foods. My olfactory skills are quite acute, to say the least.
Public high school can be a difficult place for people with hypersensitive noses such as myself, especially during this recent fad of body sprays such as Axe and Old Spice. I often find that in the hallways I am breathing more aerosol than oxygen because of the overwhelming stench of perfumes. I can remember complaining as early as third grade to my teachers when they would spray air fresheners in the room because I was having trouble concentrating on my work with the odor in the air. This was one of the earliest memories I have of really standing out from my other classmates. My mother is afflicted with many environmental allergies, so I wrote off my abhorrence as a simple allergy, as I was the only child in the room who was having issues.
I do value this ability in certain cases, such as, like I mentioned, on wine tasting trips with my parents. Wine tasting is a little-known hobby of mine, and I do quite enjoy smelling and tasting (not drinking–a couple sips are enough to make me woozy!) fine wines. My sense of smell makes it easy for me to pick out individual components of the wines. However, it does also carry over into my hypersensitive taste buds, as I, like most people, taste with my nose before I taste with my mouth. I will discuss this concept in greater detail tomorrow.