Understanding Autism: What Sensory Overload Is Like

“Sensory Overload” by Miguel Jiron:

Andrew Sullivan highlights Rod Dreher’s moving post on the reaction of his son with Asperger’s to the video above. Learn more, donate, participate at the Interactive Autism Network.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • kalimsaki
    • Jon Moles

      Grow up. This post has nothing to do with the God debate, and your link is laughable.

    • DR

      It must be difficult to live with someone as obnoxious as yourself. Can you even stand to look in the mirror?

    • baal

      Actually, this is a step in the right direction for kalimsaki. He’s made a relatively short post that’s easy to skip past. This is much better than his cut/paste of paragraphs of religious noise he used to do.

      Kalim, it’s considered rude to post comments that do not connect to the subject of the post. In most blogs, you’ll get banned or deleted for doing it. Dan posts often about the role of religion in life; you might want to tie your posts to the OP and one of those would give you a chance to be on topic.

    • baal

      I couldn’t watch the whole video. It was too painful. I might be on the least impacted side of Aspergers though as I get through life w/o major impact. I can be very picky or have a hard time ignoring certain parts of my surroundings that most don’t notice even after you point it out. I also extremely dislike crowds or places with a ton of smells.

  • DR

    As an Aspie myself, I can tell you the video is right on the money. I can easily handle loud noises… as long as there’s only one of them. I can handle a single conversation, but the jumble of noises from multiple conversations in a crowded room turn into an infernal swarm of bees to my ears; I immediately enter fight-or-flight mode. The situation where even the quitest noises turn into intense, loud assaults happens nearly every time I’m under stress. This is definitely a must-watch for anyone who wants to understand what it’s like to be an Aspie.

    • http://www.emilvikstrom.se/ Emil Vikström

      This is indeed a problem for adults as well. I am able to handle most situations (due to a lifetime of training) and I know when it is time to leave a stressful situation, but I get really tired of everyday situations such as commuting and eating in a crowded place. All the small sounds people usually don’t even hear creates stress and anxiety.
      Good on the girl to not touch the little boy. As comforting it may seem to put a hand on his shoulder, it could have been devastating for him in that situation since it would be another thing to handle. That was a constant problem for me as a kid, especially since people didn’t even trust me when I clearly said that I did not want to be touched.

  • Dan Leaman

    It is easy to get me overloaded. I have little tolerance for crowds. Certain colors, fragrances and fabric textures can drive me crazy. I don’t have meltdowns in the sense of having a tantrum. I become irritable and can progress quickly to anger if I don’t reduce the stimuli. Usually I simply become very tired and require some time to recharge. Even bright, vivid colors can be disturbing.

  • catbutler

    Man, that’s my world in a nutshell. Damn, but that was hard to watch.

  • M

    I’m not officially diagnosed, a school social worker, a psychologist, my parents, and a few teachers think I fit the criteria for autism.
    I think I might be, since this video seemed like a horror movie clip to me, but I think some things are normally that irritating, the tapping of that ladies pen is the way the electric pencil sharpeners sound to me, they just screech on and on. Why doesn’t that person just Stab me in the brain with his pencil.
    I’m even more irritated when I’m trying to not look weird and people can tell, if my parents watched this video with me in the same room I’d probably start panicking.
    A teacher knows I might be autistic and I think I’ll panic even more if I’m in her class during a fire drill, because I’d feel like she’d notice how much the bell bothered me and wait for me to cover my ears with my hands, which I know is a dumb thing to worry about.


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