Menopausal mom to 2 young adult sons (one with ASD, ADHD, tic/seizure disorders and the other with attitude).

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Sensory Overload...
How Does He DO IT!!!

What is sensory overload? Wikipedia’s definition is as follows:
 
Sensory overload occurs when one or more of the body's senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment.


Sensory overload has been associated with a number of disorders including autism. When Riley was younger, sensory overload was constant. Understandably so. Everything is “new” when you are little. New experiences, new feelings, new surroundings, new people, new, new, new.

Often times I forget what it must be like for Riley. And then something happens to me (like the dentist yesterday) and I am reminded how challenging it must be in Riley World with everything constantly coming at you full speed ahead. 

To try and explain, my perception of sensory overload goes something like this…I decide to go to my high school reunion. Never mind what year. In anticipation I go out to buy a new outfit (black…ALL black with hopes that black will make my 10lb weight gain only look like 5). I’m a little nervous as I have not seen many of these people for “x” number of years. Nope. Still not telling. 

I Google the venue. A little pressed for time, I am sure I will remember the directions without having to write them down. Why are you laughing?? I happily get in my car. There’s not a cloud in the sky, I turn on some music and off I go. About 15 minutes into the trip I realize the venue is farther away than I thought and I start to worry that I will late. There’s an accident on the bridge so traffic comes to a standstill. Gah! I start to get a little more anxious.

Finally traffic starts to move but then I notice it starts to rain. Just enough to be annoying. Just enough to notice that my windshield wipers are smearing more than clearing. It starts to get dark. I notice that I am now late and I may be a little lost. GAH!!

I have no GPS so have to rely on my aging memory. I think I see the street but I can’t quite make out the sign. I can’t see that far…in the rain…in the dark and why the hell is the music so loud!!

As I drive through the intersection I realize that was my street. I try and find a place to turn around. I turn onto a side road. An unlit, gravel, side road. With potholes. The size of craters. I think I may have left my muffler 10 potholes back. Why the eff are there no damn street lights!!! 

And then…my gas light comes on. Seriously??  I tell myself I can fill up before I head home. I finally get back on track. Only I’m not. Apparently I need East Avenue instead of West friggin’ Avenue so not only am I late…I am on the opposite side of the city. Why don’t they make pants with elastic waists and I think I forgot to rip off the damn tag on my blouse and WATCH OUT YOU STUPID PEDESTRIAN!!!  OMFG!!!  DON’T YOU KNOW YOU SHOULDN’T WEAR ALL BLACK ON A DARK, RAINY NIGHT!!!!!  Oh. Right.

With that I decide to bail on the reunion and head home. I can only hope that I won’t run out of gas before I get there.

That, my friends, is my perception of sensory overload. That is how I can only imagine Riley feels the majority of time. How he DOES it is beyond me.  

As Riley has gotten older his coping abilities/strategies have improved ten fold.
As I have gotten older my coping abilities/strategies have…well…not.  

Ironic isn’t it. 



11 comments:

  1. What a great analogy! It made me anxious just reading it. I wonder if I my coping skills are deteriorating, too :/

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    1. You still have a good 10-15 years before your coping skills start to deteriorate. ;)

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  2. So...was that a true story? :)

    I can only imagine sensory overload as 6 kids all yelling "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!" at the same time without even stopping to breathe or see if I'm trying to answer one of them.

    I can't imagine living like that all the time.

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    1. Ummmmm.....maybe....maybe not. ;)

      I'm sure you can definitely image what sensory overload feels like...6 kids and all. :P It's always a good reminder for me that's for sure.

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    2. Gah....."imagine"....I meant to say "IMAGINE"!!!!! *sigh*

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  3. Your description (in the end) about Riley's coping skills improving and yours--not so much--well, I'm still cracking up. I could imagine this whole scene unfolding and you are right. I'd be fretting too. I can't imagine feeling like that all the time. You did an excellent job of helping us understand. This post made me smile.

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    1. :D All my skills seem to be rapidly deteriorating by the hour. Haha!

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  4. I seriously started to grip my laptop as I read your reunion "adventure." And took 3 hearty swigs of my beer. seriously. I guess sensory overload is not my friend either. I can't imagine what it must be like to have the world be like that all the time. I mean, my brain is pretty noisy, but most of the time I find I can tell it to "sssshhhh."
    Excellent job giving us a peek into Riley's world.

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    1. Just so you know....this never really happened. Well...not all at once anyways. ;)

      Thanks Les!! :D

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  5. Oh how frustrating! I would be hopeless without my gps. Best invention ever. I have zero sense of direction. I am glad Riley is improving over time!

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    1. Thanks Stacie! At least he's going in the right direction. ;)

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