Eating candy. FOR SCIENCE


Categories: Personal Autism

Unsorted M&Ms taste the same.

I state this because, while I could have predicted it, it’s not something I knew. I can’t eat unsorted candy. I mean, obviously I can. I just did. I had to think about it, though. I couldn’t just reach in a bag and have candy. My brain kept throwing up alerts. “WARNING: This hand contains unsorted things. Sort them before eating? [YES] [CANCEL]“

This gets into something interesting about autism, which is that not all autistic people can do that. Lots of us have rules, like “candy should be sorted” or “books should be stacked so their edges line up perfectly”. For me, those are preferences, and things which violate them are distracting like that guy on the freeway who’s had his turn signal on for twenty miles and you’re watching him like a hawk because you know he’s gonna swerve unexpectedly for no apparent reason some day.

The question of why I’m more flexible is an interesting one. My very uneducated guess is that I’m slightly dissociative, and tend to just dissociate from my aspie discomforts when I need to ignore them. Thing is… That’s really useful, but it doesn’t change the rules. Five minutes later, I’m still getting itchy shoulderblades and twitching because that candy was unsorted. Think about that; handful of M&Ms. No red, several orange, couple brown, couple green. … Think about the fact that I got that in the second or so I was holding them and I wasn’t even trying to count. And it still bothers me that I didn’t sort them.

And this is “high functioning”. The same trait means that I can decide to send an email to a car dealer, or call a pizza place. Neither of the people I live with can call for pizza most days; that would be Stranger On Phone, and is therefore a problem. (Note: My spouse is not diagnosed as autistic, but I am pretty sure this will be corrected if/when an evaluation is arranged.) If I have already Been Out today, and then I find out that there is a need for a grocery, I can go get it.

I pay for it later; I still experience the stresses and overload, and I spend a lot of time in my room full of rainbow christmas lights doing rainbow-colored logic puzzles and listening to thumpy music. But I have the option.

… And I wish I’d at least arranged them by color, even if I was going to eat them all at once. Or that I’d gotten a handful with a more even distribution.

Comments [archived]

From: Dave Leppik
Date: 2011-05-31 15:10:18 -0500

What’s the correct order for sorted M&Ms?

From: seebs
Date: 2011-05-31 22:41:04 -0500

Simple! The order which maximizes uniformity. So basically, I sort the M&Ms by type, then figure out which kind I have the least of; I then take that many of each color, and separate them off, and do the same to what’s left. Then I eat the groupings with the fewest colors first, always in groups of one of each color.

… What, isn’t it obvious?