The hums of the -80 and the -20s and the 70 degree incubators all combine to create a beautiful white noise. There are different modulations and volumes, but they are all very consistent. It is the sound of lab and science. It is interrupted by the occasional door opening, the jingling of keys. Sometimes the quiet roar of the microcentrifuge like a very tiny airplane taking off and landing.
For me, it is overlaid by the sound of my typing, the sound of my tapping my desk. I can hear myself bouncing and spinning in my chair. I can hear when I spin my chair and knock my knees against the sides of the desk, back and forth, while I am thinking.
But the lab is safe (even if it is cold) and softens the noise. The quiet sounds of stimming don't carry. And people don't mind here, when I bounce and I flap at my desk (away from the delicate instruments and dangerous chemicals).*
Sometimes there are conversations. They can be quiet ones at people's desks. They can be fun ones about dogs or food. They can be invitations to eat. I can join in them if I want to, by moving to the physical location of them. This lab is very welcoming. It is enough to fill my need for human interaction, and I can adjust it down on quiet days.
Most of the time it is silent, with just the sounds of the lab.
I come home from work not overloaded. I've been sitting in a room with other people from 9:30 to 6:00, usually, and I can come home from work without being overloaded. I can make dinner (usually). Sometimes I can go grocery shopping. I can study and do chores (not that I do them, but I usually am capable of doing them). I've started being able to bake again on weekdays sometime. To do enjoyable things that still require a bit of effort.
I think this works for me.
I think I'm almost adjusted in.
I think I can do this.
*As long as I am sitting on something seperate--in lecture halls, the seats are sometimes connected and when someone bounces, everyone moves. The rhythm of other people's leg tapping and jiggling (usually felt and heard during tests) is something that I do no consistently handle. So when I remember, in the class where our seats are connected, I play with string instead of rock. I take notes and doodle, and try not to bounce when I can (I am usually pretty good at redirecting with no really cost, since I like class and it is in general not a stressful environment, so
Labels: autism, grad school, sensory, stimming