How to manage sensory overloads – LDT

What I wish I’d been told earlier about how to manage sensory overloads

17-year-old autistic author Siena Castellon describes the mitigating steps she follows.

Sensory overloads are one of the most challenging aspects about being autistic. Our heightened senses and inability to filter sensory information can negatively affect our physical and emotional wellbeing. Sensory overloads can also cause meltdowns and shutdowns. Unfortunately, since most people don’t experience sensory overloads, they can’t fully understand how distressing, overwhelming and painful they can be. Although our sensory issues will never go away, there are ways to manage and reduce your sensory sensitivities that can significantly improve your daily life.

Below are some suggestions:

  • Communicate – Don’t assume that people who are not autistic experience sensory input the way that you do. When I was younger, I made the mistake of assuming that others experience the world in the same way I do. They don’t. It’s up to you to spell it out to them. Make sure that you communicate as much information as you can about your sensory sensitivities. Be very specific. The more information you provide to those around you, the better their understanding will be of your sensory triggers and how they affect you. Once they’re aware of your sensory triggers, they’ll be in a much better position to support you and help you to manage and if possible, avoid them.
  • Sensory Survival Kit – One of the most effective ways of managing sensory overloads is to create a sensory survival kit that is customised to your specific needs. In my sensory survival kit, I always have a noise-cancelling headset. I find that listening to music is the best way to survive sensory intolerances. I also have several roll-on aromatherapy oils to neutralize nasty smells. I particularly like lavender and ginger. I roll the oil on to my nose to block out unpleasant smells. I have Tiger Balm to rub on my skin in case someone accidentally bumps into me. I find the menthol cools, tingles and soothes the area. I always have two pocket- sized tissue packets, which I place in the two back pockets of my jeans so that I can create a seat cushion when I am sitting in an uncomfortable chair for a long time. I have wet wipes, because I hate getting sticky and powdery substances on my hands. I have a menthol lip balm, because I dislike the sensation of having dry lips. I also have extra hair bands, which I can discreetly use to fidget with when I get distressed. I am always adapting my survival kit for different situations. For example, I change my survival kit to adapt to seasonal changes and for air travel.

Your sensory survival kit may look completely different from mine. The important thing is to include items that will help to neutralize some of the unpleasant sensory experiences you regularly encounter.

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7 comments on “How to manage sensory overloads – LDT
  1. whereislove says:

    Even if people don’t fully understand sensory overload or sensory difficulties, they could at least be kind and compassionate. Some people have been uncompassionate to me and bullied me. You don’t have to understand something particular to be compassionate and kind. You only need to understand how to be compassionate and kind and that can be applied to everything. It’s bad enough as it is without all the bullying and abuse. Some people don’t understand how to be compassionate I think or they don’t want to be because they are bullies.
    Does anyone have any advice about buying lightbulbs? I don’t know where to buy a low watt lightbulb that is less than 20W (not LED 10W-that would be too bright). I have tried a 25 watt but that is still too bright. I can’t find any lower than that. I have asked other people but someone brought me a 60 watt bulb more than once even though they know that is too bright for me.

    • Dream says:

      Hi, I’ve just googled “lowest watt bulb” and there were various suggestions, particularly for night-lights. Perhaps if you have a look here you may find something which suits you.

  2. Whereislove says:

    Thanks, I have googled ‘lowest watt bulb’ and then went to the B&Q website but there were no lightbulbs less than 40 watts. So next I went to Phillips website and there were also no lightbulbs less than 40 watts in the flame category which is what I wanted. 40 watts is too bright. This took me more than an hour so I think I’ll have a break

  3. whereislove says:

    I get sensory overload when I go to the dentist so I can’t go but I need to. It’s the worst place imaginable for me. I don’t know how I will manage to go there and deal with it this time. It’s too difficult for me. My dentist is not supportive of me and when I emailed them asking for support for autism and going to the dentist they ignored me so I emailed again and then they replied with something unhelpful and not really relevant. Does anyone have any advice?

    • Whereislove says:

      A relative went to ask my dentist for an appointment for me this week since I was finding it difficult to contact them. My relative told them that I needed an appointment as soon as possible. They asked my relative if they could phone me and my relative replied that I prefer email and so they said they would email me. But they haven’t.

  4. Senor Moment says:

    Myself, I find Warm White far too melancholic; so I doubt I would enjoy flame bulbs either. I find Cool White puts me in a better frame of mind, regardless of the time of day or the season.

    But I have just done some research on this. Not too surprisingly, most lower wattage bulbs in the UK are from China or nearby. But my experience is they are fine. No mercury inside, for instance. Amazon UK sell a lot of low-watt bulbs from China, including the flame category. Are your bulbs screw-in fittings?. That’s why i say an electrical wholesaler or specialist lighting shop is probably better, because they will make sure you get the right bulbs and fittings. The ones on Amazon mainly seem to have E14 14mm bases. The standard is E27 27mm. You might have to get an screw-in adapter. And so it might be better to visit an expert shop, to make sure you get the sizes and types correct They can also be tested; at which point you can also check that you like the effect they produce.

  5. whereislove says:

    Thank you for your advice it is kind of you. It has taken me years to actually start writing on this website after my diagnosis. I was finding it difficult to do that but I’m glad I have finally started commenting on this website. I have not had much support at all since my diagnosis. Indeed, my family wouldn’t even read the diagnosis report and ignore me when I have ever mentioned it and I don’t want to say what people have actually done to me. I find going shopping extremely difficult and often impossible depending on the effects of the place on my senses (sometimes I can cope for a while) but I will try to find and get to a specialist lighting shop or electrical wholesaler as I can’t find any online.

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