Zoë Blade's notebook

Interoceptive hyposensitivity

I only figured out I'm autistic in 2022. I'm still learning. Writing these articles is how I learn things. They're all works in progress, to various extents. No-one can speak for an entire minority group. These are just my personal experiences, things I've found out from talking to my friends, and discussions I've seen on autistic forums. Please don't take me as authoritative. I'm not.

Interoceptive hyposensitivity is when you can barely, if at all, feel things like being hungry or thirsty.[1]

It turns out that for most people, being hungry is a distinct thing you can clearly feel, before you hear your stomach gurgling, and long before your blood-sugar level drops and you start getting cranky. Similarly, being thirsty is another distinct thing you can feel, before you notice that your lips and mouth are drying.

I had no idea. I just assumed everyone felt what I did, which... wasn't much.

Combine this with the ability to concentrate deeply on a complex task once I finally manage to start it, and it's no wonder it's so difficult to get me to tear myself away from my computer, to cook and eat dinner. Once I can tell I need to eat, it's already too late.

I think this is one reason why routines are useful for me. It's easier for me to aim to eat lunch at noon every day, and finally get around to it at one every day, than it is for me to notice I'm hungry and eat then. This also explains why, whenever I do take the plunge and leave the house (which is seldom, to say the least), it's quite likely I'll forget to eat, or be unable to maintain my eating schedule for the day, and end up with a hunger-induced migraine.

Workarounds

I wear a watch that can beep every hour, to periodically remind me to check what time it is. I try to eat roughly at set times each day. On the rare occasion I go outside, I'll take an emergency snack with me just in case I need it. If my blood sugar level's low enough that I'm getting cranky and woozy, and I still need to cook dinner before I can eat it, then I'll have a shot of smoothie to tide myself over.

References

  1. Avoiding Anxiety in Autistic Adults Luke Beardon, 2021, ISBN 978-1-529-39474-0

Senses: Alexithymia | Auditory processing disorder | Interoceptive hyposensitivity