How I Avoid Autistic Sensory Overload At Christmas | Guest Post By Lydia

The shops are full of last-minute advent calendars, and carols blare out in pubs; Starbucks has its red cups, and lights are outside the neighbour’s house. Christmas must be finally around the corner.

Ever since I was a little girl, I looked forward the almost ritualistic rigmarole of wrapping gifts, decorating the tree, spotting the lights outside, glittering in the dark.

How To Avoid Autistic Sensory Overload At Christmas. Whether you're responsible for supporting an autistic kid, have an autistic child or family member, or are actually autistic yourself, this guide on sensory overload could help to give you a more comprehensive understanding of how autistic sensory overload affects people at Christmas. [Image Description: A number of presents wrapped in red, brown, and white wrapping paper.]

If I am completely honest, I sometimes find ‘this’-the whole collective celebration-a little bit, well, overwhelming. In January 2015 I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (noted as Autism Spectrum Disorder, as this was just before it was no longer a diagnosis.) I often write about this over on my blog, mademoisellewomen.com, as well as around the web.

Often, there’s a lot of new sensory output; there’s the loud music in shops, lots of people to see, having to be organised, etc. This got me thinking; what can I do, to work my way round this?

Use headphones liberally.

Headphones are virtually always in my bag; where I go, they go. (The same goes for my notebook.)

Whenever there is a lot of noise-and I have written about this previously-these are used to block the sound. The louder the music, the less noise there is; generally speaking, I prefer more of a ‘rock’ sound.

I often find it tricky to go into shops where there’s a lot of people around, or to navigate my way through a shopping centre. (Best go not at ‘peak times” ?) Anyway; headphones are one of the things I like to take with me. That way, I can concentrate, and get on with what I came for.

Lists. Use them well.

One of the things that is constantly commented on is apparently how organised I am. Here’s the thing; I’m really not.

My memory for really basics tasks, or something simple like “email x on this date to chase up y for z reason” is poor. If I wasn’t able to write it down, I’d be fairly lost. (Thank goodness for my Filofax and notebook!)

Anyway, what I do is plan ahead; I also use a lot of lists. That way, I can break down what I need to do into sizeable chunks, get it all done, and not forget anything.

Have a quiet space and time away.

Ah, silence; how I miss you!

One of the things I find hardest to deal with is sound; the best way to describe it is that I don’t have a filter. So, I can hear more than just the door scraping; in one room, it could be something as tiny as a clock ticking, or a cat yowling. If this is prolonged, it’s overwhelming, enough to block my thinking, mess with my speech, and more. (Yep, it’s not pretty.)

If you have problems with noises, like I do, I’d suggest finding yourself a quiet space; lock yourself away from the noise, and be quiet for a while. (After this, I virtually always feel better.)

 

Happy Christmas,

 

Lydia x

How To Avoid Autistic Sensory Overload At Christmas. Whether you're responsible for supporting an autistic kid, have an autistic child or family member, or are actually autistic yourself, this guide on sensory overload could help to give you a more comprehensive understanding of how autistic sensory overload affects people at Christmas. It may even help you to prevent an autistic meltdown or shutdown.  #sensoryoverload #autisticmeltdowns #autisticshutdowns #guestblogpost

 

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Lydia for writing this guest post. As well as a blogger, Lydia is a freelance journalist, and has lots of exciting projects coming up in 2019! Be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram to stay updated.

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15 thoughts on “How I Avoid Autistic Sensory Overload At Christmas | Guest Post By Lydia

  1. It is good you know what works for you and handle it well – particular when over-load can be a real problem in this time period. I have Auditory processing difficulty – so can understand a little of where you are coming from. I find it difficult (1 of a few) to listen to conversations when their is other noise going on in the background. There has been other down-sides in learning new tasks… but have finally come to grips with it when I found out how to deal with it. It seems you are working with it well Lydia. Informative post – thank you 🙂

    1. I’m sure Lydia will really appreciate your comment! I have a friend with auditory processing disorder, and I have sensory processing disorder, and there are lots of similarities between the two. The background noise thing is awful, isn’t it? I’m glad you’ve found out how to deal with it!

  2. Agh! I can’t imagine how stressful Christmas time must be for you at the shops. I don’t experience sensory overload, but I sure as hell avoid the busy-ness at this time. They’re great practical tips for coping with the mayhem.

    1. I think everyone can relate to hating the business of the Christmas season, haha! I know lots of neurotypical people who feel exactly the same way. It can definitely be hard, but Lydia seems to have mastered tips for coping with it.

  3. One of the things we found that helped our son deal with the crazy schedule of the season, was to keep him informed. We would let him know where and when we were going the day before, also who he could expect to see there. We would tell him again the day of the visit when he would ask for the details he forgotten from the day before. This seemed to help him deal with the constant changes.

    1. This is a great piece of advice, and something I’m glad works for your son! It’s something my parents implement with me and my siblings, too, and it really does make all the difference. I don’t think people realise how overwhelming changes to plans, or confusion over what’s taking place, can be for autistic people. Thank you for your input; it’s much appreciated!

  4. I relate to this! As I’m blind, blocking sound out with headphones doesn’t work for me because it cuts me off completely from my main way of getting information, but I have learned the importance of taking myself away to a quiet place, and feeling that it’s ok to do so. Otherwise I just feel completely overwhelmed and withdraw. Lists are great too – or in my case spreadsheets. Thanks for sharing these tips

    1. Ah, I can imagine listening to music when you rely on your hearing for receiving information probably isn’t the best thing to do, but I’m glad you can relate to the other things I’ve mentioned. Learning that it’s okay to think of yourself and your own wellbeing above other people’s desires is such an important thing to learn, especially for those of us who are easily exhausted by constant sensory input. Funnily enough, I’ve started to get into the whole spreadsheet thing lately. Well, I say that; I’ve given it a try. Excel is a confusing thing to master!

  5. This was a very interesting and useful read. My new partner has aspergers syndrome and this has given me a bit more insight.

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