How to Reduce Sensory Overload


People experiencing difficulty processing sensory information, such as people with autism, people with sensory processing disorder (SPD), or highly sensitive people can sometimes enter a state of sensory overload. Overloading occurs when a person experiences too much sensory stimulation and can not handle everything like a computer trying to process too much data and overheating. This can happen when there is a lot to do like listening to people talk about as long as a TV resonates in the background, surrounded by a crowd, or see a lot of flashing screens or flashing lights. If you or someone you know is experiencing sensory overload, there are some things you can do to help reduce its effects.

Part 1

Prevention overload

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    recognize the occurrence of an overload. Overloading can occur in different ways for different people. It may seem a panic attack, getting “hyper”, turn off, or have a crisis (which resembles a tantrum, but not thrown on purpose). [1]

    • During a moment of relaxation, ask about signs of sensory overload. What triggers it? What behavior have you (or your loved one) to use when you start feeling overwhelmed? If you are a parent or caregiver, you can also ask a child experiencing sensory overload about triggers when relaxed.
    • Many autistic people use different “stimulants” or repetitive motor mannerisms, in case of overload on other occasions (eg oscillation when happy and in case of overload, hand flapping). Think about whether you have a stimulant used only for self-soothing or cope with the overload.
    • If you lose the ability of normal operation such as speaking, this is often a sign of severe overload. Caregivers and parents may see this with young children who are overloaded.
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    Reduce visual stimulation. A person experiencing visual overload may have to wear sunglasses indoors, refusing eye contact, stay away from people who are talking, cover your eyes and bumping into people or things. [2] To help with visual stimulation, reduce objects hanging from the ceiling or walls. Keep small items were enclosed in containers or boxes, and organize and label the containers. [3]

    • If the lighting is overwhelming, use a lamp instead of fluorescent lighting. You can also use dark bulbs instead of bright bulbs. Use blackout curtains to minimize light. [4]
    • If the interior lights are overwhelming, using umbrellas can be useful. [5]
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    Lower noise level. The sound overstimulation may include not being able to turn off background noise (like someone having a conversation far), which can influence the concentration. Some noises can be perceived as unbearably loud and annoying. To help with noise overstimulation, close the doors or windows open that may be preventing sound inside. Lower or disable any music that can be a distraction, or go to a quieter place. [6] Minimize addresses and / or verbal conversations.

    • Having ear plugs, headphones, and white noise can be useful when the noises seem too overwhelming. [7]
    • If you are trying to communicate with someone who is experiencing sensory overload audio, ask yes or no questions instead of open questions. These are easier to answer and can be answered with the thumbs up / thumbs down.
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    decrease touch input. overload touch, which refers to the sense of touch, can include the inability to handle being touched or hugged. Many people with sensory processing problems are hypersensitive to touch and be touched or thinking they are about to be touched can worsen the overload. tactile sensitivity can include a sensitivity to clothes (preferring soft tissue) or touching certain textures or temperatures. Recognize what textures are nice and which ones are not. Make sure any new clothes is sensory-friendly. [8]

    • If you are a caregiver or friend, listen when someone tells touch hurts and / or away. Acknowledge the pain and not continue to touch the person.
    • By interacting with someone with tactile sensitivity, always alert you when you are about to touch it, and come ahead, never back. [9]
    • refer to an occupational therapist for ideas more sensory integration.
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    Regular odors. Some fragrances or odors can be overwhelming, and unlike sight, you can not close the nose to disengage sense. If odors are overwhelming, consider using unscented shampoos, detergents and cleaning products. [10]

    • Remove as much as possible unpleasant odors in the environment. You could buy unscented products, or can enjoy getting crafty and make your own toothpaste unscented soap and detergent.

Part 2

Coping with overstimulation

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    Take a sensory break. you may feel overwhelmed when surrounded by large groups of people or a lot of kids. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable, as in a family function or a business conference. While it may not be able to escape completely the situation, you can take a break to help you recover from overload. Trying to “hold” only make matters worse and make it even take longer to recover. Taking a break can help recharge and kick the situation before it becomes unbearable. [11]

    • meet their needs from the beginning, and it will be easier to handle.
    • If you are in public, consider apologizing to the bathroom, or say “I need some air” and go outside for a few minutes.
    • If you are in a house, to see if there is a place to lie down and rest briefly.
    • Say “I need some time alone” if people are trying to follow you when you can not handle the situation.
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    find a balance. is important for you to learn your limits and the limits, but also not limited to too to get bored. Make sure that their basic needs are met, as their stimulation threshold may be affected things like hunger, fatigue, loneliness and physical pain. [12] At the same time, ensure that you are not stretching themselves too thin it.

    • satisfaction of these basic needs is important for everyone, but it can be especially important for highly sensitive people or those with SPD. [13]
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    Set limits. When it comes to situations that may cause sensory overload, set some limits. If the noise is annoying, consider going to restaurants or malls in the calmest day and not hours during rush hour. [14] You may want to set limits on the amount of time spent watching television or a computer, or socializing with family and friends. If a big event is coming, prepare all day to handle the situation at maximum capacity.

    • You may need to set limits on the talks. If long conversations that drain, politely excuse.
    • If you are a caregiver or parent, child monitor activity and find patterns when exercised too much television or computer is becoming overloaded.
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    give himself time to recover. You can take minutes or hours to fully recover from an episode of sensory overload. If you have hired mechanisms “fight or flight-or-freeze”, most likely it will be very tired afterwards. [15] If you can, try to reduce the stress that occurs later too. Only time is often the best way to recover.

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    Consider coping techniques to deal with stress. They seek to reduce stress and heathy developing ways to deal with stress and over-stimulation can help reduce arousal of the nervous system. [16] The yoga, meditation and deep breathing are all ways you can reduce stress, find balance, and even a sense of security over time. [17]

    • Use coping mechanisms that help you better. You may instinctively know what you need, such as rocking or go to a quiet place. Do not worry if it is “rare” or not; focus on what you can help.
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    Try occupational therapy. For adults and children, occupational therapy can help reduce sensory sensitivities and therefore reduce the overhead in time. Treatment outcome is stronger if you start young. As a caregiver, find a therapist who has experience in the treatment of sensory processing problems. [18]


Part 3

Helping an autistic person to cope with the overload

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    Try to create a “sensory diet. A sensory diet is a way to help the nervous system of the person feel organized and efficient, providing sensory information from a so that it is nutritious and routine. [19] A sensory diet can include sensory input created by the interaction with other people, the environment, the activities scheduled at certain times of day, and recreational activities. [20]

    • think of a sensory diet as you would with a healthy and balanced diet food. You want the person receiving the necessary nutrients from a variety of sources, but do not want her to get too much or too little of anything, either, as this could affect growth or healthy body functioning. With a sensory diet, you want the person to have a balanced experience of different sensory stimuli.
    • Therefore, if the person is overstimulated by auditory stimulation (or sound), it is possible to minimize verbal instructions and instead use more visual and spend time in places with noise minimal background or allow her to use ear plugs. [21]
    • Minimize unnecessary sensory input limiting the visual material in the room, allowing the use of headphones or earplugs to find clothes that are comfortable using unscented detergents and soaps, and so on.
    • Hope sensory diet is to calm the person and possibly normalize sensory input, teach the person to manage impulses and emotions, and increase productivity. [22]
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    Avoid overreacting to aggression. In some cases, people become overloaded physically or verbally aggressive. [23] As a caregiver, it’s hard not to take it personally. This reaction is more about panic and not about you.

    • Very often physical aggression is because it tried to touch or hold the person down or blocked their escape, so he panicked. Never try to grab a person or controlling their behavior.
    • is rare for someone who is overloaded actually cause serious damage. The individual does not really want to hurt you, he just wants out of the situation.
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    Pay attention to the vestibular information. A person with autism experience sensory overload can be sensitive to the perception of balance or movement. [24] She may be particularly susceptible to motion sickness easily lose your balance, and you have problems with hand / eye coordination. [25]

    • If the person seems overwhelmed by movement or is idle, you can try to slow down their own movements or practice slowly and carefully moving to different positions (the transition from that set on foot, etc.).

Part 4

Help Someone Cope

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    intervene in time. Sometimes, a person may not realize that they are fighting, and can stay longer than they should or try to “tough it out”. This only makes things worse. Intervene on their behalf as soon as you notice they are stressed, and help them take some quiet time to calm down.

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    Be compassionate and understanding. Your loved one is overwhelmed and upset, and their support can comfort them and help them calm down. Be loving, empathetic, and responsive to their needs. [26]

    • Remember, you are not doing this on purpose. Be critical only worsen your stress level.
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    provide a way out. The fastest way to stop the overload is often to get them out of the situation. See if you can take them outdoors or in a quieter place. Ask them to follow you, or offer to take your hand if you can admit that they touch.

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    Make the most hospitable area. Lower bright lights, turn off the music, and encourage others to give your loved one some space to be.

    • The person can tell when people are watching, and may be embarrassed if they feel like they’re being watched.
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    Question before touching them. During the overload, the person may have trouble understanding what is happening, and if they are startled, can be misinterpreted as an attack. Offer first, and talk about what you are doing before you do, so they have time to decline. For example, “I you like to take your part and come here,” or “Do you want a hug?”

    • Sometimes people are soothed overloaded by a tight hug or a back massage. On other occasions, it is touched makes it worse. Offer, and do not worry if they say no; It is not personal.
    • not catch them or get in their way. They may panic and attack, for example, pushing away from the door so they can get out.
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    Simple question, yes or no. Open questions are more difficult to process, and when the brain of the person is already struggling to cope, you may not be able to form a meaningful response. If it is a question of yes or no, they can nod or give a thumbs up / thumbs down answer.

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    Responding to the needs. The person may need a little water, a break, or switch to a different activity. Think about what would be most useful at this time, and do it.

    • As a caregiver, it is easy to answer in your own frustration, but remember you can not help their behavior and needs your support.
    • If you see someone using negative coping mechanism, alert someone that knows what to do (for example, a parent or therapist). Trying to grab them can cause panic and attack, putting both at risk of getting hurt. A therapist can help develop a plan to replace the negative coping mechanism.
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    promote self-soothing, which means for them. may find it useful to rock back and forth, embrace under a weighted blanket, hum, or get a massage from you. It’s okay if it looks weird or is not “appropriate for their age;” all that matters is that it helps you relax.

    • If you know of something that usually calm (for example, your favorite stuffed animal), take them and put it within arm’s reach. If you wish, you can grab it.


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