Sensory Overload

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The last few weeks I've been asking myself - What changes am I going through that are affecting the way I process sensory events? Am I developing some sensitivity issues? Why am I getting overwhelmed easily? 

Regular rowdy interactions with my family in the kitchen? We gotta tone it down.

Driving to work on a chilly January morning, should I turn on the heat? No, I already have my podcast playing, I don't want to process warm air blowing on me (??) so I'll stay cold (??).

 . . . . . . but yet, as I type this after a busy day at work - I can reflect on all the ways I'm pulled left and right, clicking here, clacking there. What Sense is ~work~? Hearing and Touch? I'll be at work with 3 screens, 60WPM, music playing, a fan blowing on my face, listening hearing the person who just walked into my office. Maybe I pick and choose when I want to be chill?  . . . . it's almost like that's a normal bodily function . . . to pick and choose when to do things . . . according to the different variables of day to day life. . . BUT ANYWAYS - 

My goal was to come up with a hypothesis on why I am being more sensitive to my surroundings. 

My first hypothesis

Questions: Does age affect sensory processing or sensitivity?

Hypothesis: Sensory sensitivity is heightened at a medium age of 26, and is a jagged line across a human's life graph. 

Observations? Disclaimer: All my data is based of off my uneducated observations and minimal life experience.  

X - Ages 0-70

Y - Sensory (blue line is ability to process stimulation cognitively, yellow line is ability to process simulation physically) 

My graph is neither mathematically correct and probably not even consistent within itself but it took me 20 minutes so you will look at it. 

SUMMARY: As you can see above, for someone who is neurotypical and able bodied, the yellow line (process physically) starts less than average. When you're a baby your sensory skills are still developing for a bit, then you go pretty average in hearing, touch, taste, etc. and then as you age it starts to drop down - you have trouble hearing, your hands shaking when you try to sign your checkbook from 1983, you can eat a carrot for dinner because everything tastes the same, etc. For the blue line, life is crazy and you just go up and down on how much stimulation you wanna take depending on your age and status. 


Blue line, you're a baby, you're new to this world, and your blue line is elevated because you're trying to fucking sleep and one wrong footstep and you're awake and fussy, that Gerber food your mom feeds you? MID, the cat you just petted? holy shit the softest thing you've ever felt, can't go to a sports game, or if you do, you gotta wear those baby earmuffs. 

Then you're a toddler and in elementary school - sensitivity? it's out the DOOR, it dips down. You're fucking yelling, jumping off walls, yodeling into your parent's ear, you got slime in your nose, a rusty nail just pierced the sole of your foot - who cares! 

Then you're in middle school, you're chill. you're calm. you're cool. you're collected (minus those kids yelling at 12am playing COD or whatever they do).

Then you're college aged, that shit dips down again. You're at the club, dancing on a table, drinking god knows what as long as it's cheap, you're spending the night in god knows where. Overstimulation Nation.

Then you're in your mid to late 20s- your body's catching up to you, you're trying to flex that you're a grandma, you want to get your 8 hours in, you're perfecting your self care routine, wanna to lead a minimalist lifestyle. You're closing the door on those stimulations (I think that's where I am on the graph). 

Then you can take a little bit more, you have kids or friends with kids so you got no choice but to take stimulation. You got some more money so you can go back out to the world and experience. 

Then, and I don't think it happens to all of us, but you hit Karen mode. No explanation needed.

BUT THEN per my yellow line your body just starts shutting down and you don't even have a choice of how much stimulation you want cause guess what? You can't feel shit anymore. 

My second theory after my mini aha moment in the first paragraph- maybe I am allocating my sensory bandwidth to 8am-5pm Monday through Friday?

Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. 

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