If I could have NT’s understand just ONE THING about how it feels to be an Aspie, it would be to have them understand what Sensory Overload feels like. There is no single answer for this. Sensory Overload, like so many other things we Aspies deal with, is complex, deep and complicated.
Imagine you are focusing really hard on something, let’s say you are trying to walk a tight rope. All your focus is on not falling. Putting 1 foot in front of the other. This is how Aspies focus on almost everything. Now imagine someone blasts an air horn right behind you! What do you feel? Scared? Anger? Fear? Yep, that is what it is like. But it is so much more-
Imagine you are driving your car. You are paying attention to the traffic, dealing with everyone else on the road. And someone turns the radio up full blast- but then they are changing the stations every 2 seconds. That loud noise is now more than a distraction, it is annoying, painful even.
Ever try watching a movie, but someone behind you is talking nonstop? How do you feel? Annoyed? Mad? I mean you paid good money for this movie, and you have no clue what it is about because you can’t hear it over the rude people behind you.
Now imagine all of the above situations at once. But for some of us on the spectrum it is just the sound of the Air Conditioner running, then the neighbors lawn mower, and the phone rings, the cat meows. These may be easily ignored if you are an NT. But to those with sensory processing issues, it is painful. Irritating, Enraging! It is like being stuck in a rock concert while trying to write a term paper.
It is not just sounds. Movements such as crowds, or something as simple as the trees going by when you are driving. Smells, Touch, anything that effects the 5 senses can create sensory overload.
Next time you see someone overwhelmed due to sensory overload, try to understand THIS is what they are going through. Watch the short video in the link above. Then just imagine being in my shoes every day-