Sensory Sensitivity

Many neurodivergent people are extremely sensitive to sensory input.

June 17, 2021

Oftentimes, people will describe noises they don’t like as “being like nails on a chalkboard.” These noises make them highly uncomfortable and can even be physically painful.

Neurodivergent people, especially autistics and those with ADHD, often have major sensory sensitivities. Our brains process sensory input differently than neurotypical people’s brains do, which means that different kinds of sensory input can be highly disturbing for us.

An individual person’s sensory triggers will not be the same as all or most other neurodivergent people’s triggers. The kinds of stimuli that create adverse reactions are highly personal and can be affected by trauma or other individual experiences.

Though no two neurodivergent people have the same sensory triggers, here is a list of some common ones:

  • Textures of various foods
  • Clothing textures
  • Loud or sudden noises
  • Temperature
  • Flashing lights

When neurodivergent people become too overwhelmed by sensory triggers, we may experience something called sensory overload. We might have meltdowns, panic attacks, or need to stim to provide positive sensory input. If a neurodivergent person has sensory overload, they may become nonverbal and have to use alternative forms of communication. Always ask before offering assistance to someone experiencing sensory overload.

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