Social gatherings can make me feel exhausted. My sensitivity to sound makes it impossible to be able to talk to others because I can’t filter out loud sound. I also have anxiety that can slowly escalate and make me miserable. I can talk to a person if the engage with me in a non-noisy place, but I cannot talk to a person in a noisy environment. I simply cannot filter out the constant loud sounds that are entering my brain. I have been to several parties, events, and family dinners and almost every time I feel overwhelmed and then I can end up being really tired afterward.
I probably won’t ever be able to socialize with my family members/ friends in big social gatherings. I’m learning to accept that, It’s not my fault that I have sensory issues with sound, I just need to accept that I have sensory issues and try to cope with them to the best of my ability. I’m learning to recognize my triggers for overload which include (1) A lot of external movement, (2) Bright/flashing lights, and (3) Loud noise. I am trying to avoid sensory overload, meltdowns, and shutdowns as much as possible.
I think it’s important for friends and family members of an Autistic person to recognize when sensory overload is occurring. If there is not a quiet place to go to (such as the event being outside) then it’s important to take the Autistic person to a quiet place to recover. Forcing an Autistic person to stay and try to “Toughen up” will only cause further pain and anxiety. Autistic people can’t just “Toughen up” if they have sensory issues. This annoys me when friends and family members say this to me, I know they love me and want the best for me, but that doesn’t help.
Once I am done with a social event, I usually regain my energy after a while. I just like to chillax by doing screen time, or reading, or listening to music. My brain is just not wired for big social events.
photo credit: Ashildr the Avariel <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/140691633@N05/31503235411″>All that I am was at the beginning of time</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>