Autism Acceptance Month – Sensory Life

A dragon in the shape of an infinity symbol that is rainbow coloured like the neurodiversity symbol

The artist for the above image is @Kayas_Kosmos!

I am actually pretty exhausted. The worst sensory issue I have is that my skin tingles a lot. I can feel my teeth at all times since burnout… but I wanted to talk about hyperacusis – my sensitivity to sound. This is a Twitter thread that I have unrolled as a bit of a hacky way to talk about sensory life – I actually nearly forgot I needed to do this today – guess I used a knife or two yesterday instead of spoons when I wrote two blog posts.

Hyperacusis

My musing about the sense of hearing. I have hyperacusis (high sensitivity to sound). It’s adaptive. Very highly adaptive. After constant interoception about this over a number of days/weeks and retrieving a lot of memories I have a few things I think are true.

  1. If there’s no noise – my mind will generate noise in high pitched frequencies (tinnitus) – this is always actually here though even at other times, I am just distracted from it.
  2. High frequencies are the biggest issue for me – anything in the upper end of treble range can interrupt thought. I think the closer it is to the tinnitus range that I always hear the more distracting it is, and the worse the interruption.
  3. Environmental noise is the biggest moderator of the level of my hyperacusis – I can use a massive combination of white noise effects to drown out any distraction from noise – but I have to filter the treble range out. I do this with MyNoise.
  4. My hyperacusis is worse at night than during the day – this could be easily explained by the relative level of noise where I live – insects are far less frequently around me at night – there is little environmental noise as it’s night.
  5. I can’t hear the TV unless at extreme volumes with environmental noise that might not seem that distracting to other people, but the relative distance to the noise doesn’t seem to be an issue – it’s like attenuation of sound doesn’t occur almost.
  6. The volume at which other people listen to things is often unbearable to me – I don’t understand people who put their music over like 1/4 volume. I used to go clubbing and spend most of the time outside… because it was “too much”… I know why now.
  7. This makes social situations incredibly hard for me because of the lack of attenuation compared to other people – it means that audio data is as loud to me from tables away as it is for people close to me. I can filter this effect but not well.
  8. Alcohol somehow dampens this effect, or at least gives me the perception that this effect is not occurring, but instead I am tunnel visioned into whatever I am trying to listen to – I think cannabis might do this too.
  9. On top of this it causes me stress – every sound is a potential stressor, if anything is in a range or loudness that I can’t stand it causes misophonia (a form of synaesthesia tied to irrational emotion). I think this is one of my main reasons for being drained always.
  10. Noise cancelling headphones are an accessibility aid just to deal with the world for me… I still have to deal with bright light as a I have glasses and cannot afford to dampen light as it’s too expensive. So I have constant stress just existing… Good times.
  11. Which leads me to this question… Is hyperacusis just hypervigilance permanently to sound? Is this an adaptation to something? Was this a needed skill? Combined with ADHD I can go without sleep, and I can scan and identify really fast… I would have been a good ‘guard’.

Daily blog challenge

I will be writing every day on Autism for April using this list of prompts:

Alt-Text Format with links to other blogs – Autism Acceptance Month – 30 Days of Acceptance and appreciation:

Published by roryreckons

I am an ADHD/Autism Coach as well as ADHD/Autism/OCD/CPTSD advocate and independent ADHD/Autism researcher. I am an ADHD/Autism Coach who trained through the ADD Coaching Academy. I write mainly about ADHD/Autism/OCD/Mental health issues, but will also discuss morality, abolition, and current affairs occasionally.

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