Being on the spectrum is hard enough especially if you are like me and have hyper and hypo sensitivity as an added bonus to your senses, all apart from one for me as I have no sense of smell, which is irritating although strangely enough I still have my taste. Anyways this is not about me this is how to cope with halloween when having extra sensory needs.
As I’m hopped up on coffee right now and feeling quite hyper i think thats the one we will start with. Hyper sensitivity is when your body is far too alert and responsive to certain stimuli, as its halloween my auditory senses are extremely heightened, as I type I can hear fireworks going off screaing and exploding in the air, ok yes for me they are pretty to look at from my bedroom window but I’d rather not hear them like I am the one outside setting them off. (sorry to make this about me again but its the best way to describe it) My little cousin J is on the spectrum and I noticed something about him last year, we were with his nanna who was in the bank and the sound of the traffic light beeping and the low level radio had him hyper sensitised to sound he couldn’t cope. Lucky for me I carry an extra set of headphones whereever I go so, I was able to diffuse the oncoming meltdown before it fully erupted, that was my first sign that he may have APD or Auditory Processing Disorder, I’ll speak at length about the related conditions in another post very soon, but a year and a fight later we finally got him diagnosed on the spectrum. Okay I’m getting side tracked…
Sensory differences can occur in so many ways, the NAS website http://www.autism.org.uk gives great detail and explains these differences so well, as well as giving testimonals from the #ActuallyAutistic and their carers and loved ones.
I’m going to use the information provided by the NAS to give a brief overview of the types of sensory issues,
First of all Information Overload, the easiest way for me to explain this is the buffer wheel you know that annoying little symbol that goes on forever when you just want to watch your program, well our brains are basically computers, we process 34 million bits of data a day, okay we may not retain all that information but a vast majority we do, we can recall sounds sights smells, tastes, feels, emotions, we process all this and yet for most of us we can all think clearly, now you take an autistic person and ask them to process this data at the speed we do, will it work? No? why?
The why is easy to answer its because of how we are wired, their is an old saying that we are the windows 98 to the windows vista. same model yes different operational setup. I prefer using this because the mac addage makes me think we are a different species when we are all human at the end of the day our processing power is just different to yours, don’t get me wrong there are some astounding autists, Einstien, Grandin, Newtown brilliant minds yet all autistic, their logic is undeniable they are all autistic and yet for some they were seen as inferior because of the way they thought until they had their one breakthrough, Grandin being the exception as she continues to break down the barriers of the mind.
Getting back on track, I swear sometimes my brain is a hamster on a wheel rolling of on a tangent, I want to start by discussing the Over and Under Sensitivities
If the sight is under sensitive or hypo sensitive then objects can lose some of their definition , central vision is not as sharp as that of the peripheral sight, objects in central vision can appear magnified and the peripheral can blur, perception of depth can be an issue, they can appear clumsy
If the sight is over sensitive or hyper sensitive then vision can often be distorted, lights move around as the eyes try to focus, we tend to find it easier to look at one detail instead of the whole picture, physically and metaphorically. Light sensitivities make it hard to sleep. I know unless I am in a pitch black room with little to no light being emitted, i will toss and I will turn unable to sleep.
Sound may only present itself in one ear if the person experiencing the problems is under sensitive to sound, they may not even hear or acknowledge the sound, but they will love a noisy environment, although i work in a call centre,
I detest noisy environments my sound is so heightened i find it difficult to concentrate
If a person like me has hyper sensitive hearing then they will prefer the quiet, they will find it hard to focus on conversations as the noise is so overloading they cannot focus on what is being said to them.
This may be off topic but i had to share it under sound because there are so many of us autists who are non verbal, and because it is halloween during my normal twitter scroll, i found this beautiful little note which non verbal children and teens can give to the people they visit trick or treating
if touch is under sensitive they may have a high pain threshold, I know I do and this is a little gross I self harmed myself as a child by pulling the nails from their nail beds, textures in the mouth may feel strange or sensations of food in the mouth may not actually be there. we may enjoy heavy objects on top of us such as weighted blankets. My parents don’t know how much my 13.5 tog duvet is my weighted blanket and after a long day at work there’s nothing I want more than my duvet to help me relax.
If touch is over sensitive then sensations may actually hurt, I hate it when a single strand of my hair lands on my arms it makes me itch uncontrollably, Certain textures in clothing may be uncomfortable, I know I cannot stand velvet, even the neurological thought of the touch makes me cringe.
If taste is under sensitive, you may notice that you or your child has a liking for strong flavors such as chilli or garlic, Pica may be present in those who have under sensitive taste buds.
If their taste buds are over sensitive, you may notice a restricted diet such as only soft foods or crunchy foods, for me I cannot stand dry food, especially chicken, if the texture of any meat is dry my pallet is mpt accommodating. Flavors may also be an issue if the taste buds are over sensitive.
It never actually occurred to me that me losing my sense of smell may actually have something to do with my autism
I may not notice, smells, which makes me more physically aware of my own personal body odour.
If smell is over sensitive then certain smells such as strong perfumes may be quite distressing.