Mini blog #2: Sensory issues

I posted a Yeme once which said ‘If an autistic person says something is too loud, too bright or too smelly then it is.’ I stand by this as sensory issues can be a huge challenge but one which many people have no idea are a ‘thing.’

Autistic people often have sensory sensitivities. We tend to experience sensory things to a significantly greater degree than others. For me I have both positive and negative sensory experiences. The negatives ones are related to noise (unexpected loud noises, balloons popping and things beeping are a big issue). I also struggle with certain smells. Many autistic people are sensitive to smells that other people find pleasant, like perfume. I don’t mind perfume but toilet smells, red wine and the smells of foods I have a strong aversion to are a big problem. I also struggle with the sun! I absolutely love Brain Cox’s videos but he is alway using the solar flare effect and it makes me want to throw something at the TV! It render the show almost unwatchable at times.

Anyone who follows me regularly will know about my positive sensory things… anything shiny or sparkly makes me squee with joy! I love sequins and shiny jewellery, foil and glitter, coloured lights and colourful art and anything else bright coloured and shiny. Sensory joy is a wonderful thing.

Most people who have trouble with sensory things can find themselves being invalidated and dismissed, which is never OK. Sensory issues form part of accessibility. Similarly to the need for physical accessibility, workplaces and buildings need to be accessible in terms of sensory issues. When people are designing spaces they need to talk to people with sensory issues to ensure buildings are accessible for people with sensory needs. 

While sensory processing issues are not the exclusive domain on autistic folks, they are something most of us experience, so supporting sensory inclusion and accessibility is a great way of supporting autistic people. Remember, just because it isn’t real for you does not mean it isn’t real form someone else.  

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