When I was a kid, I had “trouble” hearing. The trouble was, I knew I didn’t really have a problem with my ears, I could hear just fine. The real issue was that I needed to give my mind a minute to process. It was like I had to wait for my brain to translate what my ears had just heard. This resulted in a delayed response to people or worse, ended with me getting distracted or asked the same thing a second time and then having to say “what?” all the time. About 75% of the time, after I asked “what?” I realized what they had said before they had a chance to say it again.
I had a few hearing tests, and they never detected anything was amiss. By the time I was 12, I had gotten people irritated with my “what??” enough times that I developed a hypothesis. I told people I had “bad ears” because I had so many ear infections as a baby.
In fact, I did have a lot of ear infections when I was little, so many that I had tubes in my ears a couple of times. But it did not lead to hearing loss, as evidenced by the hearing tests.
This is still a problem as an adult (taking a few seconds for my mind to process what my ears have heard) but I have learned other ways to compensate. My saving grace came when we moved to Texas and everyone I spoke with begged me to “slow down.” I have, in fact, slowed my speech down, (though I can still get ramped up!) and now there are often long pauses in my conversations with other people.
I recently realized this is due to the autism. I can pick out a song by a few notes. I can tell what a noise is by hearing a very short clip, I tend to have sensitive ears, but when it comes to people speaking, it takes me a moment to process what they’ve said. It’s called Delayed Audio Processing. I find that the delay is not as significant if I’m not looking at the person’s face who is speaking.
While this has been a very annoying deficit over the years, it has had an up-side. I am an excellent note-taker. Since my brain is tracking several seconds behind the speaker anyway, I can repeat the information on paper nearly verbatim and not lose the place in the lecture. Since I seem to learn best through *seeing* the written information, this is a very helpful adaptation/skill.
And more pieces of the puzzle are found as I move the furntiture around…