Once you have started to notice your own sensory differences and preferences, you can then start to experiment with ways to balance and juggle them all.
The ultimate goal is to find a combination and amount of sensory input to match an environment and allow you to feel ‘just right’. This is known as ‘being regulated’ or ‘sensory regulation’.
It is no easy task because everybody is unique. A combination that works for one autistic person, might not work for another, and unfortunately none of us were born with an instruction manual!
My sensory smart visit to the hospital – Autistic girl (age 12)
“I really struggle to be anywhere with strong or unfamiliar smells – this even includes being in the same room as someone drinking a flavoured drink. I also find lots of noise and different people talking makes me upset.
Often I avoid visiting places that I know will be noisy and smelly but occasionally I HAVE to go to places where I can’t control the noise and smells that other people make there.
I have discovered that when I have to go to hospital appointments, I can cope better in the waiting rooms if I eat something I like the flavour of, (usually my favourite sweets or chocolate) and also have fidget toys to keep my hands busy.
It sounds a bit crazy, but our brains can sometimes cope better with the senses we struggle with, if we feed them some of the other senses. For me, my sensitivity to noise and smells can feel less overwhelming if I balance it with plenty of movement and taste!
I have heard autistic adults talk about having a ‘sensory diet’. I think of this as being similar to our bodies needing to have different foods for a healthy diet and how we might need more of one type of food than another. Instead, I guess we have to feed our brains different sized portions of our different senses to stay feeling happy :)”