Autistic Sensory Overload


Hey everyone, NeuroRebel here. And this week, we’re going to talk about sensory overload. And can I just be honest before we dive in here? Sensory overload sucks.

[00:00:47] You know, what, what is thi sensory overload? Uh, well, for my experience, when I have sensory overload, I get to this point where everything coming in to my senses, you know, the senses are, say, touch sound, um, taste. All of those things become completely overwhelming to me. So to the point where if I hear a noise and there’s too much noise and I can’t go to a silent room and sit in the dark and curl up in the fetal position. I might actually just throw up because I am just too completely overwhelmed by my senses. At that moment. It is really, really not fun for the person who is experiencing it.

[00:01:32] Lets talk about where these overloads come from. Um, It can vary from autistic person to autistic person, but for a lot of us, these overloads seem to happen when we are overwhelmed or maybe we are pressing ourselves too far and wearing ourselves too thin.

[00:01:50] Or for me generally, I’m going to have sensory overload become more likely. If I have been putting myself into situations that I would say are. Hostile to my senses too regularly.

[00:02:04] Um, for example, when I used to work in a physical office office with fluorescent lighting, I would get headaches within four hours or five hours of arriving to the office every day.

[00:02:17] And after a while of just having headaches constantly and constantly having that pain from the overloading, the lights overloading me because light is my specific sensitivity.

[00:02:28] Um, I got to the point where I couldn’t even go into groceries, the stores for even a short time, at a time without starting to feel sensory overload.

[00:02:40] Um, but now, because I have removed myself from that scenario and I don’t expose myself to the sensory triggers as often, I don’t seem to get as much sensory fatigue from the constant exposure. And so I actually am better able to tolerate  sensory triggers now, when I do encounter them, because my brain isn’t already running on empty.

[00:03:06] Uh, for example, I’ve got these fluorescent lights on right now, which are lightly uncomforting to me, but I am able to handle them while I shoot this video because it’s raining and it’s dark outside. Otherwise you won’t be able to see me very well.

[00:03:19] Things that could make sensory overload more likely for me would be not being well rested, not getting enough sleep, not taking care of myself, not feeding and nourishing my body. Basically neglecting all of the self care things I need, uh, in order to keep myself healthy and happy.

[00:03:39] When I neglect those things I am more likely to have more sensory overloads. Um, so that is something to consider. For me self care is really, really essential and also being very intentional with self monitoring and self check ins and regularly asking myself, how am I feeling right now? How am I doing and having to stop and do this full body scan assessment… like, do I need a break?

[00:04:13] Um, because before I knew I was autistic, I wasn’t really doing that. My response was to just keep pushing myself and pushing myself. Um, Sometimes pushing myself too far until I was already overloaded and that was not healthy or beneficial to me.

[00:04:34] What should you do if someone is having sensory overload?

[00:04:40] Um, one, if it were me, I would say try to limit spoken communications with me as much as possible. Um, Or try not to make me think too much because when I’m explaining that sensory overload, my brain is just completely overwhelmed. Uh, and to the point where like hearing someone talk might actually make me throw up, which is really horrible and not fun.

[00:05:04] It becomes painful and disorienting having more sensory input added when I am already overloaded and at my maximum. So, you know, you can help – I – if it were me, I would say help me get somewhere, safe and quiet, uh, with only soothing calming, quiet, or minimal input to help slow all of that rapid brain activity down, um, because it’s is a little bit like a panic attack. Not exactly the same, but similar in the – where your capacity, you know, in that moment is really limited.

[00:05:48] Um, and also similar in the way that you may have adrenaline coursing through your body. You may have a flight or fight response that has been triggered bird as well. Um, But, and also actually I’ve had some sensory overloads during panic attack as well.

[00:06:06] Um, But you may not have that, you know, fear of impending doom, like you’re going to die like that panic attacks sometimes give you, so it is definitely very different than a panic attack, but there are some similarities in your decreased cognitive ability in that moment, and also similarities in the fact that is a temporary neurological event that is happening, that the person doesn’t have control over.

[00:06:31] So in that moment, you just need to help them feel safe and calm and secure so that they can get through that wave and ride through that wave and come out on the other side. Um, so that, that’s what I would need if I was asking for help with the sensory overload.

[00:06:46] It Is important also to note that every autistic person is different and so because of that, I want to ask you if you have sensory overloads, what is it like for you?

[00:06:58] What are some of your common triggers for sensory overload? Because your triggers other autistic people’s triggers may be different from my triggers forsensory overload and the other thing, because it’s really important for us to know how can people help in these situations when that overload is happening…

[00:07:13] Let us know in the comments below what you would need from someone to help you if you are having a sensory overload.

[00:07:21] Alrighty guys, thank you so much for hanging out this week. I hope you found this content useful, helpful and educational. If so, please, don’t forget to subscribe and even hit that share button because hopefully someone else will find it useful too.

[00:07:34] Thank you guys. I’ll talk to you next week. Bye.


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One thought on “Autistic Sensory Overload

  1. Full disclosure- I have not been diagnosed, but two grandchildren have. I have taken every test on the internet all of which say I should be tested.

    I have serious light sensitivity. I also can’t take a lot of noise in the morning. I get up very early in order to avoid loud noises for at least 2 hours. Multiple people talking bothers me- I hate parties and crowds for this reason. Like you, these are exacerbated when I don’t get enough sleep or take care of myself properly.

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