• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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Sensory Issues Can De-rail Your Whole Day

I had a plan; I did. After an awful night’s sleep which usually contributes to my enormous sensitivities the next day, I woke with the plan to get the rest of this week’s school work finished, write a few articles whose deadlines are staring me in the face, and then to get my grocery shopping done.


The first problem I always run into is that I put too many things on my “to do” list. I continually think I can accomplish more that I am capable of in my allotted time. That aside, I was able to complete my school work, and I decided I would hop in the shower while Hubby is at the movies with Aspie Teen (a rare treat for them to get out together alone), and then head back to my computer to work on a few articles that I need to finish writing.


Usually I have some sort of sensory overload warning; today I did not, or maybe I was too busy trying to get my “to do” list done in order to recognize it. Toward the end of my shower I felt it. The heat was getting to me, the shower water began feeling like little shards of glass, I began feeling dizzy, and then nauseous. I was overheated! Temperature regulation is a problem for me. I either get overheated too quickly, or cold too quickly, and I am never in a state of comfort.


I stepped out of the shower grabbed my towel and immediately had to lay down on my bed, under the ceiling fan soaking wet in order to cool off.  The problem is that the cooling-off process takes entirely too long when you are longing to accomplishing something, but the fact is I had no choice but to wait it out.  About a half hour later, I was feeling well enough to open  my eyes and sit up—but I was still overheated and could not even think about getting dressed or blow drying my hair yet!


A glass of water, and half hour later I was able to at least dry my hair, but the heat just left me feeling horrible. I managed to finish one article and didn’t even get dressed so I still was not ready to leave to go grocery shopping when Hubby got back home.  These are the kinds of things a simple shower can do when you are dealing with sensory issues. 


When I needed to be at a job (outside of the house) I could never ever ever shower in the mornings because I never knew how long it would take.  When I am feeling fine, I can shower, dress, and be gone in record time—half hour tops, way faster than Hubby on his best day.  But—on days that I am stopped dead in my tracks because of my sensory issues, I wound up late for work, or calling in sick. 

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.