Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sensory Overload

Yesterday, I went on a trip to Chicago to view a documentary film called "Tough Bond". As a film student, I took note of their choice not to use a narration to make it more engaging. They had a panel beforehand with the directors in the documentary competition discussing their films and answering questions... but I wasn't really a fan of this part because the volume of the microphone was too loud for my sensitive hearing. The fact that I didn't get enough sleep the night before made it worse.

As noted in my previous journal post, the lower my energy is, the more sensitive I am to external stimuli (or things around me). This sensitivity is quite common in people with Asperger's and autism, and it affects them on a daily basis. Too much sensory input can cause an aspie/autie to become overstimulated.

The nature and severity of sensory overload varies from person to person, but I can list off what affects me specifically. Most of these things drain my energy and give me brainfog.

Florescent Lighting
I love sunlight and natural lighting, but I can't stand white florescent lights or bare bulbs. They hurt my eyes and my ability to think, if I'm exposed to them long enough. I have to wear sunglasses in most classrooms and public buildings so my vision won't blur and so I'll be able to focus.

Bass from Speakers

Two words. Bass hurts. When I'm near bass speakers or even present in a room with them, I can feel the thumping reverberate throughout my body, and it seriously fogs up my brain. Even if the volume is lower, I can still feel it from a good distance away if the bass is intense enough. I can handle loud music without bass for the most part, but lower to moderate volume is preferable for me. Concerts and IMAX theaters are out of the question.

Crowds and Noise

I get a bit anxious in large crowds. It makes conversation difficult, especially if I'm not given any personal space. My space bubble is larger than the typical gap between strangers, and I have to step back when someone stands too close to me. If it's unavoidable, I just deal with it and don't make eye contact so I don't get brainfog. Also, noise from crowds irritates me, so I'd often sit at a table further away from people when I go to eat at my university's dining hall.


Finding clothes that suit me is no easy task. I can easily find things that fit me, but there are so many features of clothing that irritate me that it's nearly impossible to find anything that's comfortable and attractive. I can't wear anything that clings to my abdomen, under my arms, around my forearms/wrists, and around my calves/ankles. Jeans are not an option, and any pants I wear have to be elastic around the waist. I hate bras more than anything though; they drain my energy because they feel constricting. Also, no hats or high heels, or makeup, and I only wear lightweight jewelry. On most days at home, I'd wear oversized t-shirts, workout pants, and loose fuzzy socks because that's what's comfortable for me.

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