01-02-2008, 06:15 PM
I was just reading something that mentioned some Aspberger's traits and wow- did they seem familiar to what I now live with:
.....Loud noises, too much activity around you, talking to you when you are reading or focusing on something will cause you to snap or lash out at people.
....Bipolar meds do help the irritability that comes from sensory overload, which is what he is experiencing. "
....Noise overload is something we suffer from, we don't like LOUD anything, and cant handle too many things coming at us at once, like multiple people talking, tvs blaring, phones ringing...
.....Have a hard time concentrating on what I am saying if there is any background noise.
I looked up Sensory Overload (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_overload) and that explains things to a T for me. I've been retreating for the past five days with very little computer time, no loud tv, no guests, no leaving the house and it's made a world of difference. I don't feel that my head is going to explode, like I did last Thursday.
There were more comparisons of personality traits that seemed very similar with what I'm now living and Aspberger's. I never had those traits before.
I just thought it was interesting and think I'll do more research on it this weekend. It won't change a darned thing- but I find the brain to be so fascinating.
OK, back to work for me. Meh.
01-02-2008, 06:57 PM
I found this on an autism site, written by the person who has autism. I think we've all experienced this, yes?
> What is sensory overload? Is it auditory, visual, other, all? It is different with each of us, but the short answer is 'all.' It can be any of the senses... I know that loud noises, or even persistent quiet ones, add significantly to the sensory load, and certain types of noises are worse than others. In time, my nervous system will return to normal if no other loads are placed on it, but if there are more noises or other loads present, the stress level will build faster than I can burn it off, and I will get overloaded.
I have described it like this. It is as if there is a reservoir of sorts that each of us has. This reservoir starts off empty, but the things we experience throughout the day fill it up. Any sensory load (which I define as stimulus that the nervous system is describing to the brain-- in other words, anything that can be felt) or other nervous system load will cause the reservoir to take on more fluid. It does not have to be unpleasant-- even pleasant kinds of sensory load (like enjoying a movie at a theater-- I like it, but it does present a notable sensory load) fill up the reservoir. Things like the smell of people's perfume, bright lights, constant motion (I cannot tolerate seeing too much motion, especially if there is more than one velocity of motion), noise (the more painful or annoying, the worse), etc., all tend to fill up the reservoir.
Other things also cause the level in the reservoir to rise. Social contact does this. It is not just the noise of people talking and seeing them move that causes the sensory load. For one thing, I have auditory processing problems, so I really have to work to understand spoken words. That causes the reservoir level to rise. Being ready to interact or what I call being in interactive mode, is also difficult, and causes the level to rise. Finally, thinking about what the other person said and devising a response real-time (as opposed to email, where I can respond at my leisure) also causes the reservoir level to rise rather quickly. The more difficult the interaction, the more quickly the level rises. That is exhausting, and that exhaustion shows as rapidly rising levels in that reservoir.
Stress, of course, adds to sensory load. Fear, anger, and any other powerful emotion makes the level in the reservoir rise rapidly. Happy contentedness makes the level go down, but positive anticipation, suspense, or excitement, at least for me, cause the level to rise, not fall. Having things not go according to expectation, or having the routine broken, causes the level to go up. Indulging my perseverations (like researching a topic with which I am obsessed) reduces the level in the reservoir, even if it involves things that are usually stressful, like interacting with people.
Just about everything I do outside the home makes the fluid level go up. As you can see, living in this world is in itself a highly stressful, sensory-loading kind of thing for my kind. Things that you do not notice can cause huge problems for us.
When I get time alone in a dark, quiet place, I can burn off some of the sensory load and cause the reservoir to become less full. Our tendencies to isolate ourselves, to flap or rock, to routinize our lives, to put things in a specific order, et cetera, are, in part, ways of reducing the level in the reservoir, or keeping it from filling up in the first place. In my case, I do many of these things as the reservoir begins to fill... so it fills much more slowly. This is vital to me being able to cope with the world, and I do it wherever I am if I need to. The higher the level in the reservoir, the more quickly the reservoir fills in response to the next sensory load event. It's not a linear thing. When I am calm (reservoir empty), I can handle a lot more without adding to the reservoir level than I can when that reservoir is half full.
Keep in mind that I use "stress" more broadly than a lot of people. Stress can have many forms, and not all of them are bad. Hearing a funny joke that makes me laugh is a kind of stress. Riding a roller coaster, which I enjoy, is pretty stressful (it adds sensory load, which fills the reservoir). The difference is that many of the things that cause good stress also cause a release of endorphins, which helps to keep the stress in check.
When the reservoir fills, obviously, the ability to tolerate further sensory or nervous system load is nil. Any more sensory load will cause the reservoir to overflow or burst (it's just an analogy, so you pick the image that works for you). Overload is a failure to manage nervous system load levels (a slightly more accurate way to put it than sensory load, since some of the load is from within, as with emotion).
> Sensory overload can lead to what type of meltdown? Any type. Actually, the term I would use would be overload-- a meltdown, I think, is usually a severe tantrum with a total collapse of coping ability and frontal lobe function, which is one of several possible responses to overload. In my case, I tend to shut down, not have a tantrum. I can feel my ability to think disappear. My voice becomes more monotonic than normal, and I start talking in gibberish. People ask me things when I am in that state, and all I can say is "I don't know." I really don't know when I am like that... I barely know my name. In that state, my brain is ignoring most of the senses, so I have a pronounced tunnel-vision effect, and I am all but unaware of sounds around me. I can't smell anything in that state.
With the frontal lobe shut down, there is not much nervous system load, so I do not usually get worse than that.
It is distinctly unpleasant to be overloaded, and it takes a lot longer to recover from an overload than it would to recover from having the reservoir 90% full. Once the reservoir gets more than, say, 75% full, you'll see some signs that overload is coming. I can feel it when I have reached that point, or when the sensory load is so great that the reservoir is filling very rapidly.
01-03-2008, 03:14 AM
(Btw-- I do not have a brain injury, but I have several other neurological issues -- epilepsy, allodynia, pain, etc )
I have Sensory Processing Disorder which can cause sensory overload when too many stimuli, in particular those in which the person who has SPD are extra sensitive to (each person is different in what bother them and what doesn;t) are present that my body and brain can not process and integrate together quickly and all at once. When I go into sensory overload I do not have tantrums-- like the article mentions, but rather my body goes into "fight or flight mode", my world begins to make no sense, everything bothers me and I just need to get away from it all for a little while so my brain and sensory system can calm down, reorganize itself, regroup and have break. From personal experience, going into sensory overload is NOT a pleasent experience it all. However, there are some stratagies and techniques my occupational therapist have taught me so that I can begin to identify when my sensory system begins to get overloaded and deal with it before sensory overload occurs, and when/if I do go into sensory overload ways to readjust, allow my brain to chill and make things easier on me. Theese techniques include anything from having a quiet room to go in for a few moments, making sure to bring a familiar object/food/etc when going into unfamiliar places, using the brushing technique and pressure excerises (theese are used typically when the person knows they are quickly going into overload or are already into overload) to doing calming, peaceful things in an enviroment that isn;t busy, full of people, etc.
My advice is, depending on what the "cause" is--- talk to a professional who is familiar with the sensory system, way it effects your body, can give you more information and suggestions for treatments/coping stratagies. I see an occupational therapist as I have Sensory Processing Disorder; but sensory issues can occur in other disorders and be caused by various things.
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