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5 indicators of sensory overload in adults


For these with a sensory processing dysfunction – or ADHD, PTSD, and autism – sensory overload could be a troublesome factor to dwell with. Right here, author Emma Johnson describes her expertise, and shares ideas for recognizing indicators in your self and others

Over-stimulation will not be very apparent from an outsider perspective – and, having ADHD, generally even I’ve bother recognizing the indicators from the within, too. However many adults with ADHD, autism, or PTSD can expertise discomfort or really feel extraordinarily overwhelmed when uncovered to sure sensory triggers. These can embody:

• Extreme noise
• Intense or flashing lights
• Crowds or shut contact with teams of individuals
• Textures of meals, or clothes irritating pores and skin
• Overpowering scents reminiscent of perfumes

Right here, I’ll describe 5 frequent indicators of sensory processing dysfunction (SPD) that I expertise, and share how I keep away from and ease emotions of over-stimulation. Familiarising your self with these examples might assist you to recognise them in your self or others, and will assist keep away from signs escalating into an anxiousness assault.

Irritability and disproportionate emotional reactions

I work in a busy retail surroundings, which implies my mind is usually attempting to course of a number of issues directly. Making an attempt to cope with loud noises, a number of folks speaking to me directly, all whereas engaged on the checkout, might be very disturbing, and generally overwhelming. This could shortly grow to be externalised as frustration and anger. Feeling too heat, sweating, or overreacting to conditions, will also be an indication I’m over-stimulated. Eradicating myself to someplace calmer often helps to diffuse my discomfort.

Physique-focused repetitive behaviours

BFRB can contain hair-pulling, nail-biting, pores and skin selecting, and knuckle cracking, to call a couple of. These kind of signs can grow to be fairly disruptive for the folks round me, however I could not even discover them. Whereas my mind is attempting to course of the entire exterior sensory data I’m receiving, I could unconsciously use this as an outlet. These habits can show exhausting, and generally dangerous. To channel this right into a much less damaging behavior, I’ve a fidget spinner ring that I put on. As an alternative of selecting my pores and skin, or being perceived as impolite or impatient with my finger tapping, I now spin my ring. Fidgets can be found in lots of types, nevertheless I selected this one as I can hold it with me at work.

Lack of, or shift in, focus

In some circumstances, my consideration involuntarily shifts to one thing that’s making me mildly uncomfortable. Most individuals can do their finest to disregard irritants reminiscent of itchy tags, or uncomfortable supplies in clothes, however as soon as I’ve seen it, it’s all I can take into consideration. This could make staying on activity significantly troublesome, and highlights the numerous and infrequently unnoticed data we’re processing, even when we don’t significantly pay it a lot thoughts.

An answer I exploit is to put on long-sleeved cotton tops below my uniform or garments. Figuring out clothes that feels uncomfortable and altering it may well have a surprisingly massive affect in your temper.

Nervousness assaults

If I spend a chronic period of time in an over-stimulating scenario, it may well result in an anxiousness assault. Outer indicators for anxiousness range from individual to individual, nevertheless frequent and noticeable indications are:

• Sweating and/or flushed look
• Heavy respiratory
• Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
• Feeling overwhelmed by or ‘disconnected’ out of your environment
• Shaking

If issues escalate thus far, I’ll discover someplace quiet to sit down and relax. Being given a glass of water and some minutes alone, whereas understanding there are folks not far-off if I want something, is probably the most assist I prefer to be given. Nonetheless some folks choose having the consolation of pleasant dialog – as soon as once more, it relies on the person. Communication is extraordinarily vital almost about psychological well being, and in the event you’re uncertain, it’s by no means rude to easily ask, “How can I assist you to?”


Emma is a author specialising in ADHD and psychological well being. Go to emmafirefly.wordpress.com

Searching for skilled assist? Join with a counsellor utilizing counselling-directory.org.uk

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