Hi Everyone. English is not my first language so I do apologise for my grammar and mistakes.
I’m new here and I think I’ve got Asperger’s. In AQ score 44 and similar in other tests available.
Self diagnose is the only option for me at the moment so I’m desperate to find out if someone can relate to my story.
I’m 33 years old, I’m a husband and father also recovering addict. Sober for over 7 months.
I’ve got loads of questions but for now I’d like to share my challenges regarding sensory overload.
Some smells (specially cigarettes, air fresheners and cleanings products, perfumes even my own or my wife’s) make me so uncomfortable so I have to stop breath, it literally feels like something grabs my throat and won’t let me breath in until the smells disappear or is less intense. I usually end up with head and chest ache.
Noises and sounds, I’m struggling when sounds comes from more than one source for example when watching TV I tend to put the volume up until I can’t hear background noises until I hear them I can’t follow what I’m watching. Many household noises make me jump, I’m not freaking out but don’t feel comfortable. When we’ve got somebody over for dinner usually I’m overwhelmed with the situation when there is more than one conversation. After a "nice" evening with friends I'm exhausted and don't want to do it again.
Noises like knocking pipes etc bothers me while others seems to not notice them, the same with my car I always hear something coming from suspension bearing etc and then go to a workshop and nobody can hear anything it happened some many times so at some point I've replaced the whole suspension in my car all bearings etc spend 3K and still hear noises which bothers me.
Some textures and fabrics make me feel very uncomfortable I get pins and needles, the worst feeling is when I'm dressed smart and start to sweat so when the fabric touches wet skin i'm freaking out and usually sweat so badly that I have to leave the venue and get change.
Cold is painful but I think the worst is the moment of change so I stop breathing had to brace myself and after a while I’m “ok”.
Hot - shower which is a challenge o its own (all those changes of temperature) water has to be body temperature I wouldn't be able to have a shower like my wife does I would scream.
Hot weather, specially sunshine is a challenge, again I sweat feel overwhelmed can't breathe
Quite often I hear "Everybody sweats or is tired after shopping" etc but it feels that it affects me more and in so many aspects of life ...
Thanks for reading.
PS All of above can vary so there are moments when I'm less bothered but specially when tired emotionally I literally can't breath at times. Also none of this is new to me but it seems that for quite long time I was automatically avoiding or coping with sensory issues assuming that this is normal... don't feel normal I'm exhausted!!
What you are describing sounds very much like my experience (I have Asperger's syndrome). Smells, noise and bright lights are the big problems for me. I don't have the problems with heat and cold though - but we are all different.
It's interesting that you describe feeling exhausted by it. The psychologist who diagnosed me explained that as well as having sensory sensitivities, we lack a 'gate system' to decide what sensory input to process, and to determine what is most urgent / worthy of attention. This tends to result in our brains trying to process every little thing, and that is very, very tiring. This is no doubt why you feel exhausted after a trip into a sensory-overloaded environment. It is also why you can't filter out background noise - what you say about the TV and conversations when a lot of people talk at once I also struggle with.
It was the effects of this that lead me to seek a diagnosis. I actually thought I was going crazy before I found out what the cause was. The other problem is that if you are anything like me, the more overloaded you get, the more sensitive you get. If I get stuck close to someone on the train with really strong perfume, for example, by the time I get to work I can smell everything as though it is magnified 100 times, which just makes it worse and worse.
So you are not going crazy, this does happen to us and for us is unfortunately probably 'normal'!
I can identify especially with the sound issues. I tend to notice the minutest of sounds that others probably wouldn't notice, and they can become acute sources of irritation. My storage radiator in my bedroom 'ticks' when it comes on at night, so I end up either having to turn it down or put in ear plugs.
I find it very hard to tolerate noise on public transport, and with the advent of mobile technology I find myself constantly having to move seat if I use a bus or train. I can't tolerate noise if I'm driving, so always have the radio off - which some people think is very strange!
The other sensory issues you mention are very common with autistic people - especially colours, textures and smells. I work with autistic people, and they are either hypo or hypersensitive. One of them refuses to wear any underclothing... yet he can go out in thin trousers and t-shirt on a cold day and not feel the cold.
Don't you hate it when people say 'Oh, everyone does that' or 'Everyone gets that feeling', etc? It's that gap of understanding. Would they say to someone with Parkinson's Disease 'Oh, everyone gets hand tremors from time to time'? Of course not!
Your score is close to mine - 42. I was diagnosed formally nearly 3 years ago, and it's made a big difference to my life (in positive ways). Many people self-diagnose, though, because they don't want to go through the process, or they feel it will give them a label, or any number of other reasons. Everyone's welcome here, though.
All the best,
PS Your English is excellent, by the way!
Just to add some support I am not formerly diagnosed but most of what you say fits me so well. I jump at the slightest sudden sound, cutlery being put in a drawer or dish washer being loaded, our dogs claws tapping as they walk in laminate flooring.
showers have to be body temperature and the room simulate, to slightly to hot and It is like hot molten lava, cold effects me greatly, the sudden feeling of cold through my clothing isnjust uncomfortable it makes my whole body cringe and I start shaking uncontrollably.this then takes forever to stop, unless I get into a hot environment I just don’t warm up.
I do hear things others don’t seem to. All the sound issues are bizarre as my hearing is not brilliant as I get older, look up “Hypacusis” the word used for increased sensitivity to sounds.
I have to focus very hard to hear one person if there are others in the room, even when I hear them I lose just what it is they are talking about.
Watching tv is fraught with issues, I have it on in the background as otherwise I hear every little noise which I then focus on and have to analyse just what it is, similar with the radio, if I have paperwork to fill out st work before we get started I need it to drown out all the talk and other noises, I don’t actually focus on it but it acts as a barrier,
Hot weather is a problem as well as I work outside all the time, I am ok with reasonably hot but to hot really effects me, my mind starts to loose focus, I find myself thinking about how I must cool down, not over do it, take more rest periods, drink more fluids, I know all these things but I still find my brain over thinking it constantly as the temperature goes up. I have had heat exhaustion and it is really dangerous, get home exhausted, sit in the shade and try to deal with a massive headache and feeling very nauseous, plenty of fluids and quite time helps but it takes a long time,
I have very sensitive feet! Thevslightest grain of sand feels like a boulder, The seems along the ties cut my toes or feel like they do.
every change of pattern in the stitching I can feel, if they are slightly tight it seems to strangle my ankle, I get cramp if that happens,
All these things and I work outside!
all weathers! How I keep going I really don’t know, I must as working inside is claustrophobic for me, I over heat when manual working inside, I find breathing is harder, being with others so close throws up many issues as in smell and touch. Being outside it rarely is an issue as nature blows away smells or I can walk away,
strong smells don’t really effect me to much but I often smell a certain smell which then takes me back to a specific time when I smelt it before, so my mind cannot stop thinking about that time, so I struggle to focus on the matter in hand.
Well there you go, just a brief discription if a few issues I cope with daily. You are not alone and as said we all vary with differing magnitudes of intensity and type of issue.
Take care and Try to understand these things are not a disorder just we are more sensitive people, In many many ways,,,,,,,,,,
moggsy said:we lack a 'gate system' to decide what sensory input to process, and to determine what is most urgent / worthy of attention.
Thank you for your reply.
I did find it very helpful and reassuring specially what you said about “gate system” that’s explain a lot to me.
Thank you all for your replies I did find them very helpful and reassuring that I’m on the right track.
You're certainly far from being alone. What people have written about noise applies for me too.
I had hyperacusis for years before I started thinking about autism. Now I have quite a lot of hearing loss because of Meniere's Disease so I have the subtitles on the tv, but changes in the volume of noise are really difficult. (Music on wildlife documentaries is a particular pest, All those soaring chords!)
I have to have background noise because of tinnitus. Today I don't want to listen to the radio and I have a white noise generator in one ear, so I have a nice gentle hissing noise going on.
I too find noises from more than one source really stressful.
My sister found me sweeping the carpet with a dustpan and brush the other day and asked why I didn't use the vacuum cleaner!
Best wishes, Fuchsia
Fuchsia Thank you for your reply.
Today after my session with my conseluor I didn’t feel great as it was quite emotional but still no headache etc.
After I took the washing from the washing machine I could smell fabric conditioner it wasn’t strong but immediately started to struggle to breathe and feel tension in my forehead. I strarted to feel stinging in my eyes. After half an hour drive to work I’ve got massive headache including my teeth my eyes sting badly I “choke” when smell something, tinnitus and white snow got worse ...