Sensory issues

In this post I will be discussing sensory issues; a quick disclaimer is that this post will be more focused on what I have witnessed and what I also live with. There will always be individuality and some of us will not experience the same sensory problems but that’s ok, we are all unique. I also want to apologise about how long this will be, there’s so much more that I could mention but this post will already be a sensory overload to some haha…I’m actually really sorry! -I have included headers so you can skip around a bit 🙂 

WHAT ARE THE SENSES? 

What is the definition of “sensory”? “The definition of sensory is something that has to do with the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, or hearing. An example of sensory used as an adjective is a sensory event, such as the smelling of flowers. YourDictionary.” I took this straight from a generic dictionary webpage. For us with a form of ASD we tend to have a heightened or over sensitive sensory system, “Sensory Integration Dysfunction”, this is very common and it can affect each of us mildly to severely and can cause emotional outbursts and much more. 

We see the world very differently compared to a neurotypical human and sometimes it can be very frustrating, uncomfortable, frightening or in some lucky cases, fascinating and calming. I find that I myself and many others I have spoken to, have difficulties with movement and coordination which comes across as clumsiness.  “Sensory Integration Dysfunction” is when there are problems with the integration of the sensory system for example there are issues receiving, organising and or filtering and making any sense out of sensory information.

The various systems in our bodies that are included for the integration of senses are the vestibular system or the inner ear balance, this responds to movement and gravity. When this is affected sometimes its hard for the body to understand when it is stationary or moving and the speed of movement. 

The five senses which are; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. 

Lastly the proprioceptive system which is the system that works with muscle contraction in response to incoming information, an example of proprioception is being able to throw something without having to look at the throwing arm directly or being able to know what surface you’re standing on without actually looking down. I could go into even more detail about all of this but I think its enough for this purpose really. 🙂 

Some basic examples of sensory issues that most people are known to suffer with are; issues with bright or flickering lights, scratchy clothes, loud and certain frequencies of noise, textures or food and materials, strong smells. 

MY MAIN SENSORY PROBLEMS-

I am a highly sensitive person, I will go into HSP a bit better in a future post as this is also a very relevant to a lot of people. I have many problems surrounding my sensory system and I wish to share some with you and maybe some people can gain a better understanding what some sensory problems may look like for someone who is highly sensitive Asperger’s. I am not including the whole picture as there’s so much more to explain but this post is already so long I’m sorry! 

A quick reminder, we can become withdrawn easily if we are put in situations that affect our sensory issues so please have that in mind when it comes to loved ones or anyone you may suspect to have sensory problems. 

First is sight, for me sight is a rather big one, I get a lot of side effects from my issues. I will get a migraine most weeks and I tend to feel motion sick at least once a day. I am very sensitive to light, bright light gives me headaches/migraines, burns and causes me to feel faint. I take medication to reduce the affects of migraines when they do happen and I often reduce my exposure to certain types of light with different types of glasses with special lenses (a lot of people have this problem). I normally have issues with a sudden exposure to a bright light (made worse if I am in the dark to begin with for example a flash light or sunlight behind trees) or being in florescent light\blue light. Any bright colours, flashing lights or busy patterns can make me dizzy, disorientated and motion sick, for example the blinds in some offices tend to make me feel a bit nauseous. Patterns, lines or words that are too close together or are too busy for my eyes to focus on. Even some suit shirts with lines or patterns can have the same disorientating affect. 

When I walk into a room I will often focus on small details such as the exit, the coffee stain on the floor, the curtains not being symmetrical and so on. I am much more likely to see details much quicker, sometimes those details are very helpful and sometimes they’re pointless to most people but not to me. 

Smell, I don’t have too many issues with this other than over powering smells such as certain perfumes, cleaning products, plastics and candles make me feel a bit nauseous or may cause headaches. 

Taste and texture of food is a large one for me, I have lots of issues with foods such as jelly and eggs. Anything with a slimy texture can turn my stomach and cause me to gag, feel nauseous or panic. I have always separated my food out on a plate, no two things could touch however, I have gotten slightly better now and even include basic sauces but I still don’t enjoy too many textures on one plate. This can make me gag and feel very uncomfortable. I dislike strong flavours so I will often go for the plain and basic option if there is one, I also have no problem eating the same foods regularly as long as they don’t change. 

Touch; there are only a few textures I really dislike such as velvet, rough wool, tags, crumbs on a seat or bed, sand in shoes etc. Most of these textures can make me physically sick but thankfully I don’t come across these problems very often as they are common hates for those without sensory problems too. I do however, LOVE smooth and soft textures, I will rub my face on fluffy pillows and touch book covers all day, I feel physically calm when I hug a stuffed animal toy or even better have some cuddles with my dog or pet rabbit. I really struggle with holding hands or touching skin to skin with people other than my partner; due to working in a company where I tend to meet new people I had to learn to suppress the urge to whine when I had to shake hands with someone. Its not about the person, its about the contact, so please don’t think I am being rude if I don’t shake your hand. Long cuddles or handshakes/holding (with anyone other than my partner) makes me writhe, if I am under stress or feeling over loaded I will be even less tolerant. Pain doesn’t affect me as much in some ways, I have a high pain tolerance to certain pain for example the dentist and getting tattoos  don’t really phase me but I am very sensitive to the heat and the cold. 

Hearing; this is a big sensory problem for me in most cases, I really love quiet and calm environments and every time I am in a horrible sensory overloaded environment I regret leaving my safe little quiet one.  Loud or surprising noises such as balloons and fireworks can make anyone jump however, I have hypersensitive hearing to certain frequencies so sometimes certain noises such as a firework or electrical appliance/lighting can make it feel like you’ve just pushed a needle in my ear which makes the experience so painful and unbearable. Loud music or chatting can make me feel very anxious and dizzy, I don’t go clubbing anymore and sometimes even small gatherings with rowdy people can make me feel very uncomfortable and struggle with focusing or providing adequate attention to those present. I tend to hear things that others don’t or others may struggle to hear, I will hear a tap dripping or the oven go off from the other side of the house, I can hear the quiet beep of a thermometer or the buzzing of lights in a busy office. 

SENSORY OVERLOADS – 

Sensory overloads are really common and many of us suffer them regularly, it happens when one or more of the senses are over-stimulated from the environment. An example may be, busy streets, lots of information, media etc. I am very lucky to have the job, the parents and the partner I do! My workplace is incredibly understanding and I know if I needed anything or asked for support they would do everything they can and I am so grateful. My parents and partner are the same, I know I can count on them, I need to learn how to accept support and care from those around me. 

Too many things going on can also cause sensory overloads, parties, large gatherings and many other events are a real challenge for someone like me. If I am in a good place in my life (emotionally, mentally) or have had an adequate amount of sleep then I will be able to handle the situation much better but sounds and sight may affect my ability to focus. A busy, chatty office is not ideal especially if I am having a tough time personally. Sometimes my issues with focusing or staying on task can seem a bit rude but I honestly don’t mean it, its either have a blank confused Morgan or have a crying hunched over in a corner rocking Morgan. Something like a hum or tapping may seem like nothing to you but to me it’s a hoard of mopeds racing past you or a bunch of fireworks going off in a bathroom one by one while you stand in the middle…I even avoid most movies especially if they’re action or thrillers; the images are moving too fast, the sound is too loud, there’s too much blood which can all cause a sensory overload. Even just hearing the theme song for the famous casualty show makes me have an anxiety attack. It feels like everything is trying to get you and you cant run away, the pain is so intense and overwhelming the only thing you can do is shut down, cry or stim.  Those with a form of Autism are not the only ones who can experience sensory overloads, there are plenty of other conditions that also have sensory overloads regularly. 

END NOTES-

Are there any positives to being sensitive and having heightened senses? Yes, there’s plenty of positives to being like this. For starters I can hear frequencies that others cannot, I will notice small details (highly detail orientated) and problems much quicker and easier. I can find wally very quickly and solving puzzles and problems come naturally and easily to me haha. I pay attention to the details and the whole pictures fits into place a lot easier. We are more likely to notice details than the neurotypical mind which makes us great for certain jobs and careers but of course again we are all very different, so some of us may be detail orientated and others will have traits that will suit them better for other roles. 

To some people sensory problems seem silly and I have had many people roll their eyes or tell me to get on with it but to me these sensory issues can cause trauma, sickness, anxiety and even prevent me from doing my daily tasks. This isn’t something we can just “get over”, sometimes we never find coping mechanisms to deal with our problems and instead we avoid. Don’t push someone to eat something or do something that makes them feel uncomfortable including those who don’t appear to have a form of Autism, you don’t know how they feel and it could be much stronger than how you feel about it. Give each other time, space and care so that we can all grow and learn how to cope together, I find that I am learning how to live more comfortably all the time and I know others have had similar growth. Each of us feel differently and you must remember that something that may not bother you could bother someone else. What you find easy may not be easy for us or others. I try to be mindful but I know its hard sometimes so just try your best and that’s all that matters 🙂 

Unsure who made this short comic but it felt very relatable 🙂

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! I love this time of year, its starting to get warm, the animals are all coming out and I overall get more sunshine and enjoy the outdoors. Of course I also feel more inclined to bake, below I’ll share some of my favourite bakes from the previous year. One of my many special interests is baking.

I have a few special interests, being Aspergers this can sometimes be perceived as “obsessions” but I can hyper focus and learn how to do things that relate to my special interests much faster than the average person, in general people tend to be able to learn better when passionate and it is the same for us. Being Aspergers means that I normally excel in the subjects I “obess”/have a special interest in. Hyper-focusing is a skill that I have that allows me to put all of my attention on one thing whereas many people especially those without Aspergers don’t have the ability to do this whereas it comes naturally to me even with subjects of little interest. Some of us don’t have this and some of us have things that are way better, we are all very different 🙂

Just above are some treats I made for Halloween, this includes a brain cake which was inspired by Rosanna Pansino (I had to change the recipe as I was unable to find half of the ingredients at the time). Considering I didn’t use the same recipe etc I thought it turned out well and my parents and partner seemed to love it, it also went down well at the Halloween party.  But seriously I think Rosanna is great and I may not be the target audience but I love her baking skills!

HOW TO MAKE A BRAIN CAKE – NERDY NUMMIES 

I also love making brownies so there’s a couple of images of some brownies I’ve baked, I almost always make them different every time but I like using this recipe; https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/best-ever-chocolate-brownies-recipe

There are also some Pretzels which have a green milk chocolate and mint coating, a general chocolate coating and caramel and cinnamon coating.  For parties I always love covering everything with sprinkles because who doesn’t love them. 

Here are some random pictures of bakes I like to do such as; marble cake, cinnamon buns, banana cake, cinnamon toffee popcorn (aware its not really a baked good though haha), chocolate chip cookies, anything rainbow and double chocolate cake. I’ll give any bake a go 🙂

However, I would like to share some bakes that I did last year and this year for Easter.

I made little chocolate cupcakes with bunny bums and chocolate nests with m&ms (last year I couldn’t find any mini eggs AT ALL). This year I made a chocolate Bundt cake with an orange chocolate rice krispie treat nest with mini eggs and drizzle. It looks rather dry and I was really worried it would be all lumpy and hard to swallow however, it was very surprising. It wasn’t dry and even a day after it has kept its moisture. I find chocolate cake can be very dry at times but I was very pleased! Of course I did a generic chocolate rice krispie treat as well.

Easter Bundt cake

Ingredients

  • 220g of butter (I use half salted/lightly salted and then unsalted for the rest)
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 200g dark chocolate (I used 100g orange Bounville and 100g normal Bounville)
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (you could use orange extract)
  • 320g plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 120ml buttermilk (I made this by using Lemon juice and normal milk and letting it sit for a few minutes)

For the decoration;

  • 150g of orange Bounville Chocolate
  • 50g Rice krispies or coco pops
  • 20 mini eggs
  • A splash of milk
  • 1 table spoon of sprinkles

You can add some golden syrup to make this a richer rice Krispy treat.

Method;

  1. Preheat the oven (gas 3, 170°C, fan 150°C). 
  2. Use some butter to make sure the Bundt tin is greased then lightly dust with cocoa powder, make sure you remove any excess powder by shaking. 
  3. Next melt the butter and chocolate chunks in a heatproof bowl, to do this you have to pop a pan with some simmering water in it on the oven (make sure it is not boiling and ensure that the water isn’t touching the bottom of the bowl) stir the mixture often. 
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, eggs and extract until light in colour. 
  5. Stir the cocoa powder, flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and buttermilk into the chocolate and butter mixture, then fold in the sugar and egg mixture until it is all combined (make sure all the powders are sifted to reduce lumps). 
  6. Pour the fully combined mixture into the Bundt tin and tap the tin on the worksurface which will help remove any air bubbles. 
  7. Bake between 45mins to an hour, check with a skewer by pushing it into the middle and when it comes out clean it should be done (I should’ve took it out earlier than an hour to ensure it was for sure not dry). 
  8. Cool in the tin for 20 mins, then turn over and take it out to cool on a wire rack.
  9. For the decoration, melt the chocolate like you did for the cake (in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan). 
  10. Mix just over half of the melted chocolate with the rice krispies. I popped the rice krispies into the middle of the Bundt cake and then pushed the mini eggs on top. 
  11. Move the cake to a serving plate and then drizzle the rest of the melted chocolate and top with sprinkles and mini eggs. This can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

I love baking and due to always having lots of ingredients I took this hard time to bake a bit and try new things!

Everyone please stay safe and ensure that you are not putting anyone else at risk and even with this lovely weather and holiday weekend please try and stay home. Go for a short walk somewhere safe and don’t risk others lives or your own!

We all have to try together to keep each other safe, it might suck but this isn’t forever ❤