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Down South to Dixie!

Kettle Chaos!

This is a true story that happened during my nursery days and is a good example of how what you say to someone with autism can cause them extreme distress and fear. It is also the first time that I remember being aware of my sensitivity to the shapes of objects and the bad feelings they gave me...

The staff-room was between the play-room and the toilets. The staff-room had a kettle which used to sit on the window-sill. I hated it. I didn't know why, it just made me feel uncomfortable. I couldn't walk past it.

If the door was shut, then I could take myself to the loo no problem, but if I could see this kettle, I used to freeze - even though it wasn't even switched on! I used to run back into the play-room for safety. Naturally the staff thought that I had been to the toilet and come back, but of course I hadn't so the inevitable happened...

It took quite a while but the teachers finally realised that something was wrong. I was going to school in clean underwear, and coming home in something different. And this was becoming an almost-daily occurrence...

What made it even more confusing was that I could quite happily sit in the staff-room right near kettle, even while it was "on" while I waited for some clean underwear, but I could NOT walk past it on my own...

Eventually the staff asked my parents if I had ever been burnt. Of course the answer was "No".

I had no way to explain why this kettle gave me such a bad feeling and because it was never suspected that I had anything like autism, it was just put down to me being silly.

The literal interpretation aspect...

When I was very young one member of my family used to sing me a nursery rhyme. It was sung to the same tune as "London's burning!" but its message was meant to teach little children about the dangers of hot kettles. I can't remember all the words but they went something like this:

Kettle's boiling! Kettle's boiling!

Don't touch me! Don't touch me!

Burny-burny, burny-burny...

At an early age I took things very literally, and this rhyme ended up scaring me half to death! I was too young to understand that it was only HOT kettles that are dangerous, to me they all were, and this one was no exception!

Sensory Sensitivity aspect..

This was also one of the first times that I became aware of my sensory sensitivities and my dislike for certain shapes.

Even though the kettle wasn't switched on, its silhouetted shape standing there on the window-sill made me feel threatened, like it was going to come after me and hurt me..

Being in the staff-room with the other members of staff, it didn't bother me then. I knew that they would protect me if it tried to hurt me; but I could not deal with it on my own.

Although I am better now with kettles, I still have an extreme dislike and phobia of sauce-pans. As with the kettle, their shape makes me feel very uncomfortable and, if I see one boiling over on a stove, this makes me feel like it is angry with me and is shouting at me by hissing and spitting.

As a consequence, I am too frightened to have a cooker in my home which means that I have to rely on take-away food and microwave meals.