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Benks
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13 Mar 2024, 8:58 am

I have a specific “thing” that happens. No idea what it is. I have a doc looking into it cause I recently thought “hey, this seems like it could be an issue.” Physical abnormalities ruled out for inner ear, sleep, and brain.

Here is the most consistent way to trigger it. I’ll be on a road trip (30 min+) driving at highway speed. Speed limit very slowly decreases to 35. Then my perception of the world goes all wonky. My sense of speed gets “uncalibrated.” Feels like I’m going 150mph at 35, or if I speed up it feels like I’m stationary. No clue how to describe that. Sound becomes weird- like the hi/mid/low audio knobs in my brain get turned to strange settings. I’ve done plenty of experiments while this is happening and these symptoms seem to be the only ones.

To make it stop, I typically have to pull over and do something that makes me forget about the “thing” that’s happening. That’s tough to do sometimes. I have to actually do something, not just walk around and wait.

Stimming (or stimming adjacent) seems to help reduce these symptoms. Shaking my head to make me momentarily dizzy helps. Like trying to force my brain to stay “normal.” Also slapping my leg for the audio and physical stimuli. This will reduce the severity of the “thing” while it is starting, but does not help once it sets in.

Does this at all sound like something autism related?



AnanstrixG
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13 Mar 2024, 10:06 am

I'm certainly no expert, but I do have a theory. Driving, especially on the highway, produces a lot of vibration and tire hum. Plus the car itself has a lot of sounds. It could just be an overstimulation in those areas, even under the conscious awareness of it. That's why stimming may help, because it "distracts" you from the constant ambient sound/feel.

For reference, I used to live near a highway exit, and the constant traffic hum, despite not being loud, always had me on edge.

I'd suggest planning extra time on longer trips to take frequent breaks, if at all possible.

Hope this was any help.


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Benks
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13 Mar 2024, 11:16 am

AnanstrixG wrote:
I'm certainly no expert, but I do have a theory. Driving, especially on the highway, produces a lot of vibration and tire hum. Plus the car itself has a lot of sounds. It could just be an overstimulation in those areas, even under the conscious awareness of it. That's why stimming may help, because it "distracts" you from the constant ambient sound/feel.

For reference, I used to live near a highway exit, and the constant traffic hum, despite not being loud, always had me on edge.

I'd suggest planning extra time on longer trips to take frequent breaks, if at all possible.

Hope this was any help.

That’s kind of what seems to be causing it. The constant drone changing. It has to be a slow change tho. I have no clue how that feeling ties into anything tho… or how to really describe it.



autisticelders
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13 Mar 2024, 2:45 pm

Sensory processing struggles of some sort. You might want to get it checked out by a neurologist to see if you can pinpoint the trouble and make sure it is not something like mini seizures being brought on by something about riding/ driving the car. There could be many reasons for this experience.
If it is something to do with audio or visual processing ( or both) things like sunglasses, ear plugs, or other adjustments may prove helpful. I hope you can get some answers, the experience as you describe it sounds very distressing!


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Benks
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13 Mar 2024, 4:40 pm

autisticelders wrote:
Sensory processing struggles of some sort. You might want to get it checked out by a neurologist to see if you can pinpoint the trouble and make sure it is not something like mini seizures being brought on by something about riding/ driving the car. There could be many reasons for this experience.
If it is something to do with audio or visual processing ( or both) things like sunglasses, ear plugs, or other adjustments may prove helpful. I hope you can get some answers, the experience as you describe it sounds very distressing!

It was incredibly worrying at first. It’s happened enough that sometimes I just experiment with it. See what happens and how long it happens. I’ve measured pulse, dexterity, counting seconds in my head. Everything checks out. I can even vary on conversations and no one in the car or on the phone has any idea that I’m having some issue.

An interesting note, it seems to only happen if it’s just me on the road. If I’m following someone who is slowing down at that spot, that provides enough brain processing power to keep it from happening. I have to focus on my following distance and am not just slowing down.

Another note. If it’s really bad, I find it difficult to know how to walk once I pull over. How far should my stride be? Do I swing my arms? How high do I pick my feet up? Am I stomping really hard?

When I was 10-25 (and rarely after that), I believe it would happen somewhat often when I slept. If I powered thru it (or didn’t know what was happening) it would turn into a strange nightmare. When I figured out what was happening, I’d have to get up and do something till it passed. It became an annoyance like having to get up to pee.
Sometimes it would happen as I was going to sleep and I could try to stave it off. I never could without getting up though. The sensations were/are different. How long are my arms? Are my elbows touching my feet? My hands are huge! It would almost feel like a panic attack. I’ve never had one but I imagine that’s somewhat what it feels like. When I get out of bed in that state, everything is SUPER loud. Brushing of sheets are banshee screeches. Ceiling fan is a jet engine.



Mountain Goat
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13 Mar 2024, 6:19 pm

Does it suddenly happen after stress or overthinking, or after certain smells or bright lights as if so, it could be the result of a shutdown, as shutdowns can outwardly happen in different ways. Most people go quiet and shut off. I get them differently as my body is effected and my balance etc.


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Last edited by Mountain Goat on Febuary 31st, 2026, 12:42 am, edited 126 time in total.


Benks
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13 Mar 2024, 6:59 pm

Mountain Goat wrote:
Does it suddenly happen after stress or overthinking, or after certain smells or bright lights as if so, it could be the result of a shutdown, as shutdowns can outwardly happen in different ways. Most people go quiet and shut off. I get them differently as my body is effected and my balance etc.

No, just the opposite… after prolonged boredom and being sedentary (going to sleep and longer car rides). Is sounding like I can rule any ASD cause out.



Mountain Goat
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13 Mar 2024, 7:04 pm

Benks wrote:
Mountain Goat wrote:
Does it suddenly happen after stress or overthinking, or after certain smells or bright lights as if so, it could be the result of a shutdown, as shutdowns can outwardly happen in different ways. Most people go quiet and shut off. I get them differently as my body is effected and my balance etc.

No, just the opposite… after prolonged boredom and being sedentary (going to sleep and longer car rides). Is sounding like I can rule any ASD cause out.


Ok. Could be something else.


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Last edited by Mountain Goat on Febuary 31st, 2026, 12:42 am, edited 126 time in total.