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"Sensory issues"

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Guest Vapourware

I've been wondering about this for a bit - I see the term "sensory issues" being thrown around frequently, especially when talking about people on the spectrum, but what does it actually mean? How does "sensory issues" manifest themselves in people facing that problem? Is it heightened sensitivity that certain areas of your body has, is it the inability to tolerate certain senses, or both?

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As with much for individuals on the autitistic spectrum, it varies.

It can be, absolutely classically, either "too much or too little" for sound, taste, touch, smell...

More troubling most of the time. and probably more common, are the sensitivities.

A very low pain threshold, and/or remarkable skin touch discrimination, so some materials and textures feel "strange or wrong" very easily.

Visual processing that is sensitive to the point of beng overloaded easily: not just to bright lights, though that can be true, but to shapes and movement; a visually "noisy" environment.

Noticiing too much the trees swarm around and the forest is a wild wood in a storm.

Similarly with smell, taste and hearing: too many things happening at once can provoke a reaction, or there can be very strong single triggers: one certain scent, taste or mouth texture.

But it can be at the other end as well: a good few parents are horrified by their ASD child's utter insensitivity to pain, with its potential for considerable unintended self-harm, doubly so if coupled as it may be with a lack of appreciation of danger.

Insensitivity to sound levels can show in having music too loud for others, or being unable to modulate an appropriate level of voice. (this get tied into more complex social sensitivities and insensitivities, too).

Me, I'm not as markedly affected as some, but I do have some definite visual processing quirks, and I can appreciate others by analogy.

Not least by my over-observant reading and listening which, while it cam be useful, can also leave me distracted or confused over some minor verbal curiosity or typo, adrift from the main thread of a conversation and, to others, apparently not paying attention when in fact I am thinking like mad, just on this fascinating detail no-one else has even noticed.

And I do overreact to misplaced apostrophe's. <<shudder>>.

Chris.

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And I do overreact to mi'splaced apo'strophe's. <<'shudder>>.

Chri's.

You forgot a couple, but I fixed it. They mean, "Watch out! Here comes an s!" right?

That post already said most of what I was going to say this morning before I realized I didn't have time to say it without missing my bus. It can be too much, too little, or inability to filter properly, for any sense(s).

For me personally, I have a few things that aren't horribly bad but are far enough from "normal" that I have to be aware of them or compensate for them in some way. I'm a bit oversensitive to light and sound in some ways. Bright lights and loud noises (particularly high-pitched ones) tend to overwhelm my ability to process visual and audio input, and beyond a certain point also my ability to think clearly. I'm usually most productive at night as a result, or in other situations where I can control how much light and sound I'm exposed to (preferably a dark, quiet room with no light other than my computer screen or as dim a lamp as I can get away with and still see what I'm reading, which tends to be ~40W these days).

I also seem to have a rather low sensitivity to pain. My entire life, I've always been asked by people if things hurt, like if I bump into something, and half the time I won't even have noticed that it happened. It can be bad enough that I'm bleeding, and sometimes I'm still oblivious. It generally doesn't get me in too much trouble, but I do have to at least be aware of it and pay attention/occasionally take inventory of myself to make sure something isn't worse than I think it is (or notice that something in the first place so I don't make it worse without knowing).

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Guest Vapourware

Thanks everyone, it's made it more clearer for me. I did read that wiki article but some of it didn't make sense with me. I guess I just needed some actual experiences from people because it just seemed like an abstract experience for me.

I guess with me, the area around the base of my neck has always been very sensitive. I don't know if it is that way with other people. I don't like people touching that area, necklaces are out of the question, my older shirts tend to have their collars dragged down around the area where the fabric would normally sit because there are times when I can't stand the sensation of anything even remotely touching it, and sometimes it drives me so much to distraction that I can't sleep. Right now I would like to tear off my shirt [sorry if TMI] because that area is feeling irritated by the fabric of my shirt, but it is inappropriate [and not to mention cold] to prance around topless. Would that be classified as a sensory issue?

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Guest Vapourware

That's interesting, thanks for the info. I have heard you mention the underarmour in the past and it makes sense from this perspective.

I guess I've never really thought about my sensitivity as any sort of sensory issue until recently. I always just thought it was something I had to tolerate because no-one else around me seemed to be expressing any issue with wearing shirts the way I was, and I would try to not pull on shirts too much in case I ruined them. Except for people not liking labels on the back of shirts, which I guess is somewhat close to my experience of wearing shirts. It's good to hear that at least there's someone out there with similar issues and there are ways of resolving the issue.

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...I put them on inside out so there are no seams on his skin...

I've seen this come up very often, mentioned by mums wth ASD children, most especialy with reference to socks.

Intolerance of elasticated sock-tops also, along with feeling many common materials are too scratchy or rough, or simply but in an undefined way have a texture that is "wrong".

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I'm particularly sensitive to smells. I have to sprint through the detergent isle at the grocery store. I can't stand most artificial fragrances. Strong chemical smells drive me batty. If my gf puts on nail polish 3 rooms away I can still smell it and it still drives me crazy. As a kid I had issues learning to swim because of the chlorine in the pool. I dislike drinking unfiltered tap water due to the chlorine. Fresh paint is bad. Gasoline and most chemical solvents are bad, etc.

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Guest Vapourware

Thanks for the additional comments, the concept of sensory issues are making a lot more sense now. When I first started thinking about them, it was like a very abstract notion in my head.

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