Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An overwhelming view of the world (sensory overload)

Nick is absolutely petrified about walking the halls of his school, and after a quick interview with him, this is what I’ve come up with.
He finally told me that his speech teacher made him go back to his regular class by himself, which is walking down two large hallways to get to his regular classroom—the safety zone.

I asked him what had happened on his journey through 2 halls…did someone upset you? Tease you?

He told me No, but he did tell me that the other kids bother him.

“What did the kids say?”
“Nothing, they just bother me.”
“So you walked the halls by yourself and none of the kids said anything to you?”
“No, but they just bother me.”

The only conclusion I've come up with after this interview with my not-so-articulate boy, was that he most likely became very overwhelmed (sensory issue) by the rush of other kids walking through the halls trying to get to class on time. I imagine that the speech teacher let him leave to go back to his classroom at the sound of the bell, and the start of a new class -- for all. And roaming the halls with a flood of students rushing by him was probably so overwhelming (sensory overload), that he got scared. I imagine it’s like a little boy who had temporarily lost sight of his mother at a New York City subway station and trying to make his way through the flood of loud, obnoxious people without suffocating.

I asked him what it was like walking by himself.

He got very upset and said, “It made me very nervous,” he said, clearly distressed.
“Did you get upset, did you cry?”
“A little bit”
“But you made it to class alright and you were fine?”
“Yes, but I’m not fine...”
“Okay buddy, I’ll write a note.”

And thank God this is the last week of school, because I think we both could use a break.


Tanya @ Teenautism said...

Nigel used to be allowed to leave class 3 minutes early so he could make it to his next class before the previous one got out to avoid the sensory overload of those halls. Now he says he's fine and doesn't need to do that, but every time I go pick him up and walk those halls myself, I don't know how in the world he manages. It's too loud even for me!

Shea's Mom said...

I can actually relate to this. I get very agitated and nervous in crowds. Herds of teenagers jockeying down the hall does sound upsetting.

Especially if leaving a little early will alleviate so much of his stress.

Poor Nick. And, Holli. You guys do deserve a summer break.

Hang in there.

autismfamily said...

I just started reading a book by Tony Atwood that has good examples of these issues - Why does Chris do that?

Holly said...

Thanks Bonnie, this is a great link and resource!! I will post it on my new site links.

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