Sensory Overload

Until I personally experienced sensory overload, I could not understand this concept.  I made visual schedules, social stories, and used desensitization training to help my students with autism spectrum disorders.  Then one Christmas morning I awoke without vision in my left eye.  It vastly changed how I was experiencing everything around me.  After treatment, I eventually healed.  But, the experience changed me.

Can you imagine how overwhelming the holidays are for a child with a sensory disorder?  Noises, Santa suits, decorations sparkling everywhere.  I would highly encourage families of these individuals to consider a few changes this holiday season.  

  1. Choose fewer holiday decorations.
  2. Make a visual calendar to mark out days to countdown for a holiday.
  3. Avoid serving food that your loved one cannot tolerate.  Even the smell can overload them.
  4. When planning an outing to the mall or see Santa, listen to them.  When they hit the overload point, they require a break from the noise, visual stimuli, smells, etc.  There is no amount of cajoling.  They cannot function anymore.
  5. Slow down.  People will understand if you’re running a little behind in order to help your family member transition peacefully.  Pushing them to go faster can and will create a problem for everyone involved.  Extend yourself some grace this holiday season.

Posted on November 8, 2012, in Education for Parents and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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