Sensory at school

M. Kelter (InvisibleStrings blog) talks about his difficulties starting each new school year.  At first he thought it was social, but later realised it was sensory.  After a long holiday at home, where he was acclimatised to the sensory environment, going into a new sensory environment was exhausting and overwhelming, as his mind had to sort though so many new inputs, and it took time (sometimes months) to acclimatise.

Seasonal sensory sensitivity

I always enjoy reading Cynthia Kim’s articles (Musings of an Aspie blog)- her writing is clear and insightful.  This post is about how changing seasons affects her sensory system.  The mid-seasons are always tricky with unpredictable weather and therefore clothing choices, but she is not always aware of how her body is feeling until it’s a major effect (ie whole body shivering rather than just a little cold).  She outlines how each of the changes affects her sensory system, then mentions a few strategies she’s using to try to help.

ASDay Articles 2013

These three articles were posted for Autistics Speaking Day 2013, and cover some interesting topics!

Sparrow Rose Jones (Unstrange Mind blog) writes about Autistic History Month. Celebrating Autistic history and culture, she writes about mainstream and community heroes, symbols, books, and historical tragedies and victories. A very interesting read!

Speaking from the shadows, by Nightengale of Samarkand on LiveJournal. The author discusses three reasons why she has chosen not to be openly autistic at work (she is a doctor)- disbelief, discrediting and tokenisation.  She feels that she can currently advocate more effectively without having to wade through these issues first- and hopes to make her community and field a place where one day she can be openly autistic.

But what about those fluorescent lights? (Turtle is a verb blog). While social and communication issues are visible when interacting with others, stimming can be obvious, and issues with change can quickly become so- sensory issues are often invisible. The author outlines the effects of a fluorescent light, suggests some alternatives/accommodations- and appreciates the opportunity to discuss autism and sensory issues with people who enquire about the blue tinted glasses.

Five minutes … or not?

Ann Memmott has written an article about Autism Basics, called “When ‘I’ll be back in five minutes’ isn’t true”.  This literalism isn’t psychological, or controlling- it’s a brain wired for detail and accuracy, and trying to manage sensory overload.  She gives good descriptions about what is happening in her brain and environment during (and after) those five minutes, and some alternative suggestions that might be more helpful when communicating with Autistic people.

Self-injurious behaviours

Interesting article about self-injurious behaviours– what they are and why they occur.

Self injurious behaviors are not the same as self harm. I feel self harm is a much more concerning issue than SIBs because it encompasses emotional torment (although there is overlap of self harm and SIBs in some cases). 

On a small scale, my SIBs are not that big a deal. I bite my fingers while trying to process phone calls. Under the table, my nails dig into my leg during a meeting. These acts are not a lack of control. I am exerting some small control over my surroundings. Often, I can’t avoid an overstimulating environment. Pain works as a filter. Enough pain, and the ambient noise dulls to a roar so that I may at least fake my way through a conversation without tears. These are minor acts that may result in a bruise or a little blood, but no real damage.

The best you support you can provide to someone with self injurious behaviors is an open mind. Don’t dismiss possible triggers. If someone communicates to you that an environment or activity is overwhelming, even if that communication is not speech, pay attention to them.