Sensory Hiding and Seeking

Living with Asperger’s Syndrome can be extremely stressful at times, it’s not just socialising that affects us. There are many obstacles that can crop up at any time of the day/week unexpectedly causing instantaneous meltdowns/shutdowns.

Sensory overload is a term I often hear when discussing Autism. After doing a little research I realised that it had affected me personally and my whole life consisted of sensory disturbances that caused absolute misery. I noted how my migraines would appear when exposed to certain lights, the materials I couldn’t tolerate on my skin and how sounds could send me into full blown anxiety attack (worst case).

With each problem there are different circumstances. The worst being a full blown anxiety attack or meltdown and the least feeling irritable. If I come across a sensation I dislike I tend to feel uncomfortable or intense rage. I tend to avoid fireworks and balloons which petrify me but some just can’t be avoided unfortunately.

Now that I’m aware of these issues and how much of an impact they can have on my life, I’ve found ways to avoid sensory overload by wearing earplugs when I sleep and in general if finding ears more sensitive than normal; standing right at the back or corner of a concert; wearing sunglasses at all times when it’s bright outside/driving in the sun and have quiet breaks when in crowded places.

I have made a list of likes and dislikes below and would love to know what affects your senses most?

Likes

Visual

  • Christmas lights, dim lamps, lit candles, the natural moon light, city lights from afar and watching videos of people knead slime.

Sounds

  • Rainfall, quieter storms, crickets at night, pram tyres rolling over a pavement, music (when in the mood) and silence.

Touch

  • Squidgy objects, fresh bed sheets on my bare feet and legs, body massage especially when focused on my head, skin being stroked/rubbed, swimming in water, steering wheels and long soft hair.

Smells

  • Cakes in the oven, certain scented candles, floral perfumes, clothes fresh from the tumble dryer, that wet pavement smell (petrichor) and bonfires.

Taste

  • Foods: snacks that ‘crunch’ and need biting into, soft chewy sweets, cold ice cream and chewing gum.
  • Flavours: vanilla, coconut, peanut butter and anything spicy but tasty and sweet but not too sugary.

 

Dislikes

Visual

  • Car headlights, jumpy lights, flashing lights, flickering lights, bright lights and natural sunlight.
  • Crowded places (processing moving people), flashing images on a TV screen, neon coloured objects and fixing on moving objects.

Sounds

  • Certain songs, dogs barking, heavy traffic (sleep with windows open), car horns, loud conversations close by, footsteps behind me as I walk, power drills and hammers.
  • High pitched noises: sirens, babies crying, screeching of tyres and alarms.
  • Low pitched noises: continuous barely noticeable noises and plane in flight.
  • Sharp noises: fireworks, gunfire and balloons popping – my worst nightmare!

Touch

  • Denim, silk, satin, warm materials, tight clothing and jewellery (rarely worn).
  • Anything wet/damp touching my skin (other than bathing and swimming), handling raw meat, very cold objects, hair being brushed, mud, walking barefoot and contact with public toilets (seats and floor).

Smells

  • Strong perfume, lavender, dandelions, bleach and any lingering scent.

Taste

  • Foods: slimy textures, ridiculously chewy food and certain lumpy foods.
  • Flavours: anything bland, fishy and extreme spices.
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