8 Senses

There’s a fine line between stimming and sensory overload.

The line between stimming and overload is different for every autistic person. While each of us have sensory needs, those needs incorporate different experiences with the 8 senses. Some autistic people despise certain sensory input that others adore.

In this series, I’ll break down the 8 senses, one at a time. The 8 senses are sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, body movement, body awareness, and interception. We’ll discuss each sense, ways to tap into it by stimming, and how to mitigate sensory overload for autistic people.

Sight (n.)
Using the eyes to interpret visual stimulus, like color, shape, patterns, and light. Also known as the Visual Sense.

Exploring Sight through Stims:
-Music visualizers
-Optical illusions
-Strobe lights*
-Neck rolling with open eyes
-Watching music videos on repeat
-Gazing at textured paintings & photos
-Watching videos of others stimming
*Caution: Flashing lights can potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy.

Strategies for Sight Sensory Overload:
-Sunglasses & blue light glasses
-Natural instead of artificial light
-Avoiding eye contact & closing eyes
-Lowering display light & turning off electronics
-Sitting in a pitch-black room
-Focusing on a neutral object
-Naps to reset vision

Autistic peoples brains do not filter the 8 senses in the same way that neurotypical brains do. As such, many of our senses are heightened or hypo-reactive. Sensory overload is often a sign that we have absorbed too much input. Even so, this expansive absorption of input also allows us to see things that others may never see.

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