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james' diary

Diary entry - 1st June 2012

Sensory Overload

My exams are over! Maths core 2, Maths further pure 1, Statistics 1, Statistics 2, Physics, Geography 1 and Geography 2. All done! No 6th form for a week now. Needless to say, I'm quite proud of myself. My parents were so happy with me that they got me a brand new toy. Not the kind you play with, exactly. They're headphones.

One issue that I and many other Asperger affected individuals have is sensory overload. I'm no doctor so I can only explain it to be that our 5 senses, hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting, and the information they receive can be overwhelming and confusing. Sounds may be too loud, colours too bright, textures too irritating or rough, smells too repulsive and tastes too disgusting. Yet were it to happen to a Nuero-typical person, they wouldn't think to much of it.

The most prominent sensory difficulty I have is in the area of hearing. Loud and sudden sounds can shock me, and quiet, ambient noises can be distracting. Being a drummer has somewhat helped with my tolerance to loud noises, I'm no longer shocked by large vehicles driving past me while I'm walking along a narrow pavement and going to music gigs isn't a challenge any more. However I still struggle to concentrate on work or relax at home due to small nitty-gritty noises in the background taking my mind off whatever I'm meant to be doing. This is why the headphones I got are now so very useful.

They're acoustic noise-cancelling headphones. As well as muffling sound with the over-ear foam, they also somehow annihilate any other noises in the room. This means that when you put them on your head and switch them on, you can't hear anything any more. Because of this I can now read a book without having to worry about my neighbour's lawnmower or bratty children and I can now plunge in to my own world of silence whenever I want.

My advice to anyone suffering from sensory overload through the ears to buy a good set of ear defenders. They tone down the outside world very nicely while you can enjoy going about your day. But if you have a lot of money saved up, go for some noise-cancelling headphones. Most of them are expensive, however you'll find it worth the money once you put them on.

Thanks for reading!
-James