Sensory overload and gaslighting

I want to talk about sensory issues. So often when I hear people talk about autism or when I read about it, the sensory differences are completely overlooked. This needs to stop. Now. This needs to stop immediately because overlooking it harms autistic people.

Not understanding how excruciating it can be to be forced spending time in a noisy envinronment or eat certain kinds of food or a lot of other things is to not understand autism. Yes, sensory differences vary a lot among autistic people, but not understanding what a huge impact it has on a lot of autistic people’s lives is to not understand autism. I’m not going to be modest about this opinion because, frankly, I’ve had it.

I’ve had it with meltdowns and sensory overloads in my life. I’ve had it with people who think that I “feel a bit tired” from noises. I don’t “feel a bit tired”. I want to die when the sensory overload is too heavy. The pain from all unprocessed noises, sensations and visual information is so much worse than the pain in my joints. My memories from school are about being forced to spend time in places and performing activities that put me in sensory overload. I have nightmares about that as an adult. I have flashbacks. I can talk a bit about what it was like going to school but most of the memories are so painful that I can’t talk about it.

The fact that nobody admitted that school actually was harming me makes it unbearable. It’s gaslighting. Saying to somebody that what’s happening to them isn’t happening and making the person unable to trust their own perception of their experiences is a powerful way of making them hurt themselves again.

So let’s pay attention to the experiences autistic people have. Don’t ever claim you know anything about autism if you only focus on observable behavior.


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