help me understand sensory processing issues

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Blue Jay
Blue Jay

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Joined: 11 Sep 2010
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Posts: 83

06 Dec 2011, 11:37 pm

I would like to hear about what kind of sensory problems some of you have and how it affects you. I am trying to find someone to relate to some of the problems I have in this area. I can't seem to even identify what it is about processing sensory input that is so difficult for me. So I am hoping someone here will say something that sounds like what I experience. I need help explaining why I feel so constantly overwhelmed every day, so I can get some help dealing with it. So if you don't mind maybe just tell me a little about what kind of sensory stimulation (audio, tactile...etc) is overwhelming for you and what happens to you when you are overstimulated. Thanks so much


Joined: 6 Jan 2011
Gender: Female
Posts: 31,418
Location: Somewhere in Colorado

06 Dec 2011, 11:49 pm

Well the more overwhelmed I am the slower I its like if I am taking in too much from my senses it slows me down.

Fascism is a disease.


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Joined: 26 Mar 2006
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,088
Location: Massachusetts

07 Dec 2011, 1:05 am

A (non-complete) list of things Tuttle finds overwhelming:
-Most non-natural scents
-food going bad (at a different level than "this is disgusting")
-sudden loud sounds
-changing pitch at high volumes (for example: sirens)
-high pitched sounds (electonic whine and breaks squealing both fall into this catagory)
-sustained loud sounds (processed differently than the sudden ones though)
-certain voices
-artificial sweeteners
-bright lights (for example headlights)
- quickly flashing lights
-florescent light bulbs (get their own category)
-lights through a fan (see: flashing lights)
-UV of sunlight reflecting off snow
-clothes on wet body (getting dressed soon after shower)
-too stiff of clothing
-scratchy wool (sometimes, sometimes this is good though because its a low level thing that I can't help but focus on that distracts to some degree against negative thoughts)
-nails being trimmed or filed (feels like nails on a blackboard sound)

-Other headaches
-Shutdown (Unable to move, unable to speak, senses processed differently, either thoughts racing or thoughts blank)
-Irritable and prone to meltdown (doesn't cause it itself, but any little thing that bothers me becomes enough)
-Unable to focus on anything
-Unable to focus on anything other than the thing that's being overwhelming
-"This feels Wrong" reactions like a bad enough injury to not feel pain because of the shock

Other sensory processing difficulties:
-Does not always perceive sound at the same volume, light at the same brightness, etc.
-Strangely dependent on vision for balance. Turning lights off causes walking to be unstable
-Need to feel feet under ground to know where self is
-Even for things that are not overwhelming, hypersensitive

Sea Gull
Sea Gull

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Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Age: 48
Gender: Female
Posts: 218
Location: SoCal US

07 Dec 2011, 1:04 pm

I would definitely echo's Tuttle's experiences, and perhaps explain a little more. I have small seizures as the result of my sensory overwhelms so I have had reason to look into them a great deal more from a neurological standpoint.

It seems to me that my brain wants to function only at a particular speed. That's MY speed. I'm married but have no kids and my husband works, and I'm an artisan so when I work I work at home and have total control of my environment. I also have mild epilepsy and take meds for that and they don't control it entirely but the seizures I still have are extremely mild and just cause a sensory sensation and not a loss of consciousness or anything like that. So I notice immediately if something in my environment is overstimulating me because my nervous system gives me a tingly "heads up".

I have a sensory processing lag. It's like when you meet a stranger and they shake your hand and you are stuck processing the handshake for so long (it's a lot of sensory/communication info to process really) that you miss the first couple of minutes of what they said and have to catch up...sound familiar? I avoid greeting hugs with friends when they come over for the same reason.

So when I'm by myself and I can control my environment I can make my world run at my speed and there is no problem. But the TV/radio does not run at my speed. It runs at NT speed and the image/data speed alone can overwhelm me. Areas in the world where NT people speed up to rush through at a faster/noisier than normal pace even for them...check out lines, traffic intersections...can absolutely overwhelm me and cause a severe processing lag. Trying to deal with that processing lag and *anything else* the slightest bit challenging...a conversation, a phone call, making a decision, etc...throws me into a horrible Overwhelm Mode. My brain just can't keep up but for some reason it must sort the information and my processing speed is what it always is and when I pushed it to process faster in the past I ended up with migraines and seizures. So now I have to find a place to sit and safely wait the process out. OR if I go with somebody I can just get them to guide me through the area and make a point to ignore the stuff/people that's moving. I have to wander through the NT world a lot more carefully these days.
Even things like this Board overwhelm me. There is just so much information here to sort through and it changes so fast. It's almost too much for me to participate in.