Experience What Autism & Sensory Overload Feel Like

Photo: REX Shutterstock
According to the Center for Disease Control, some 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). And while more people than ever before are being diagnosed with ASD, it's unclear why this figure is on the rise.

What is clear is that those suffering from the developmental disability will face social, communicative, and behavioral challenges — ranging from mild to debilitating — throughout their lives. And while most people are now aware of the social implications of autism, thanks in part to film and television portrayals of the disorder, like Claire Danes' Golden Globe award-winning turn as Temple Grandin or the character of Max Braverman on NBC's beloved Parenthood, many do not realize that people with autism often suffer from sensory sensitivity, as well. But a new video created by the National Autistic Society aims to change that.

While most people can easily process background stimulation, like a dog barking or nearby group of people chatting, those with sensory sensitivity can struggle to handle this kind of surrounding sensory information. The result? That person sitting next to you innocently drumming their fingers on the sofa makes you want to scream. The street light that just flipped on overhead makes you want to run for cover. The ambulance siren screaming down the street is just too shrill to bear and the drip of a running faucet becomes like a hammer in your head.

In short: It's intense, it's unpleasant, and for many suffering from autism, it's an unfortunate part of daily life. But thanks to this new video, it's a part of daily life that can now be more easily understood by everyone.
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And, of course, it's worth noting that people with autism can have a wide range of symptoms and levels of sensory sensitivity, including under-sensitive senses, or hyposensitivity, in which they experience the opposite. Visit the National Autistic Society to learn more.
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