Every person needs to integrate the signals that we receive through our senses to do daily activities.  However, for people with Asperger’s Syndrome this is difficult because of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

For those of you that are unfamiliar with SPD, here is an explanation from the SPD Foundation:

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.”

Many adults have gone undiagnosed all their lives wondering why they have such a problem with the everyday tasks that neurotypical people seem to handle with ease.  You are not alone!  Most medical professionals were not trained to recognize sensory dysfunction.  As a result, many people struggle with this hidden handicap and end up being ridiculed, which in turn can lead to secondary problems like social anxiety.

Each person with SPD is affected differently.  Some people are hyposensitive meaning that the person is under-sensitive, which usually leads them to seek out sensory input.  Whereas, other people are hypersensitive meaning that they are over-sensitive to certain stimuli.  Some people have a combination of hypo- and hyper-sensitivity.  For instance, a person can have a hyposensitive auditory system seeking out loud noise but be orally hypersensitive leaving them to be labeled as extremely picky eaters.  People with a hypersensitive olfaction often struggle to justify why they should concern themselves with hygiene because strong smells of deodorant and hair products can be truly upsetting.  There is one quote from an unknown author that has stayed with me since high school, which reads, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.”  This statement is painfully true.  If you meet someone smelling of body odor with your hair disheveled – this will leave a lasting impression on the person that you don’t take pride in your appearance, which usually then leads them to believe that you don’t value chabut I racteristics such as organization, cleanliness, etc.

Autism and Sensory processing disorder in adults

How do you overcome this?

Due to the fact that every person is differently affected by SPD, it is important to receive occupational therapy with a sensory approach to tailor the session to your individual needs.  The occupational therapist can work with you to find different calming techniques that can be used when over-stimulated or stimulating activities when your brain is craving sensation.  They may even develop a “sensory diet,” which is when you schedule certain sensory activities throughout the day to help regulate your central nervous system.

Some other good suggestions to alleviate sensory triggers are:

  • Use non-scented deodorant
  • If the sensation of showers is bothersome, then take a bath.  In order to eliminate the drastic change in temperature when exiting the tub, use a small space heater to warm the bathroom.
  • Use an electric toothbrush instead of a manual.
  • Try cutting or smashing small fruits (like blueberries or grapes) if you don’t like the bursting sensation in your mouth
  • Buy clothes without tags.
  • Try seamless socks.
  • Try different kinds of sheets.  Many people like the feel of the jersey sheets compared to cotton.
  • In order to make brushing your hair less painful, consider wetting your hair before your brush it.  Fill a spray bottle with water and a small squirt of conditioner. Shake then spray to help break up knots in your hair.
  • Wear noise reduction headphones or ear plugs when sounds become overwhelming.
  • Consider wearing sunglasses inside if florescent lighting is too bright for your eyes
  • Compressions can be very relaxing to some people.  If you have someone that you trust and know well – ask for a hug.  Other people find massages helpful.  Or you can try Temple Grandin’s “squeeze machine.”


Why not leave us a comment below and let us know which sensory issues you are most effected by in your life.




75 thoughts on “Sensory Processing Disorder In Adults With Autism
  1. Susan M says:

    My hearing is very sensitive. I’m 63 and I still “jump” at sounds that most people just take in stride. I also get very upset when a room is so noisy that I can’t understand what a person is saying to me. That’s one reason I avoid crowded areas. My vision is poor and I rely on my hearing too much to do anything to limit it, like wearing headphones. When I’m at work, work-related conversations going on around me don’t bother me, but “gossip” type conversations mess up my concentration and make me very nervous and angry.

    I find your mention of hugs interesting. I recognize the value of a hug, but I don’t trust anyone enough to ask him or her for a hug. I would also not trust any machine to do it without hurting me. I have found that very forceful massage is helpful, but someone needs to know what he or she is doing in order to give that kind of massage. I’ve been massaged twice by someone who didn’t know what she was doing. The first time I ended up feeling like I was tied in knots all over. The second time I actually got a knot — the person managed to force all the tension in my neck and shoulders into one place, and it made a big knot. I’m very sensitive to touch, but I’ve learned to avoid it as much as possible.

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    • Dawn says:

      I find the protective shields used at the dentist for x-rays really comforting. I’m looking at making or buying a weighted blanket. If I make one, I’ll probably use a denim or soft-feel upholstery material for strength, and plastic pellets or rice for weight. The most economical route. More reliable than hugs from other people.

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    • Cathy says:

      I am often extremely bothered by loud conversations at parties etc. and especially bothered by music I’m not familiar with even if it’s not too loud, but especially at high volume. People standing or sitting too close to me is also uncomfortable as are loud talkers
      which some of my Aspie friends are and even I talk too loudly at times. People always tell me to stop yelling when I think I’m only speaking firmly.

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  2. Brooke C says:

    I have been hypersensitive to sounds, smells, and tastes since I was a very young child. I get completely overwhelmed with loud noises such as screaming or crying, especially with small children. Strong smells make me physically ill, and tastes can either be under or overwhelming to the point of having difficulty eating. Glad to know I’m not alone and there is a reason for all of it!

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    • I know what you mean about the screaming of small kids. I also cannot tolerate being next to dogs due to the fact I know they can bark and set me off. I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s and have over-sensitive, abnormal auditory sensitivity. The aforementioned sounds worsened in adolescence and I began to have violent meltdowns that lead to hospitalization and arrest. I cannot work or be involved in my community. I wish there was more resources available for adult women with Asperger’s.

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    • Thank you, Brooke! It is so validating for me to hear of a person on the spectrum who struggles with some of the same auditory sensitivities I do. I recommend earplugstore.com as I have found comfortable, passive sound blocking ear muffs (Pro Ears 33). This doesn’t mean I have been able to fully integrate into society, but it does help me when I can go out with the help of a supportive/safe person. It is the way our brain is processing those sounds and other senses. I am hoping more and more people on the spectrum who can will advocate on their own for the supports they need. sensory safe housing is a big concern of mine. I’ve contacted my local legislators. not a whole lot of feedback, but I don’t let up on them for long. God bless you and all of us on the journey of life with ASD.

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  3. Bryan says:

    Wow, thank you so much for this. This is one more thing that helps validate my being an Aspie and let’s me know that I’m not alone in these areas. Very enlightening. For me, I don’t always realize the causes of my behaviors. After I read articles like this I often am able to instantly recall all the many times or areas that match the discomforts discussed. This one was very right on.

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  4. Pamela Harrell says:

    Thank you for this great article. My eyes are sensitive to florescent lighting from time to time. I have worn sunglasses inside and told people I am wearing sunglasses because of the glare of these lights and cause me to have headaches and they understand.

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  5. Dee says:

    NOW, NOW I understand why my husband, who, past pension age, is still waiting to get his Asperger’s diagnosis done formally, brushes his teeth to the frequent destruction of the brushes, crunches raw cooking apples for enjoyment, (and always eats the cores), combs his hair forcefully, hugs until you squeal, loves his heavy leather belt, laces his shoes so tight it’s a wonder he doesn’t get gangrene, loves any massage he can get, enjoys any music loud if he can, but equally cannot bear to wear a hat or gloves… and is having real trouble adjusting to his much-needed new hearing aids.

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  6. Lisa Stetler says:

    How do I know if I have aspergers

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    • Karen Antunes says:

      Karen Antunes – I didn’t think I had it but took the test on this site. It nailed me as dealing with Aspergers. Then I started reading all the articles on this site and began to understand about all the strange behavior in my life. Or should I say the behavior that was not common to other people. The test is excellent.

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  7. Scott Deutsch says:

    This sounds EXACTLY like me!!! I was in college, and although I consider myself intelligent, I never really “got it” because I thought “I am stupid…” because everybody else was passing the quizzes, tests, and exams. I also wish to be married to a “knee-buckling beautiful” woman. but I am apparently romantically inept. Does anybody have any other resources (especially legal!!!) to offer??? Thank You!!!

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    • Michelle Shaftoe says:

      I am exactly the same. I was always in the top classes at secondary school, but simple things such as social interaction, or even homework sometimes I just didn’t get it. I can rattle off almost anything to do with a certain subject, but you ask me to do anything connected to the “adult world” such as money, bills, rent, speaking on the phone to companies etc, I can’t do it. I hate feeling this way.

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      • Thomas Powers says:

        I never did homework it never made sense either. But it’s crazy you mentioned knowing many things about many subjects I am the same way. I guess I absorb info, to the point people have not believed me about stuff cause they thought there was no way I knew the stuff. I then told them the tv show name the episode name and when the shoe was on. I didn’t even know how I remembered it all. I am really routine with my actions day to day it helps me try and focus but I never can nail down the “normal life” side of managing those things either only found out I had As a year ago I’m 32. Changes many things…

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  8. Maile says:

    The sensory issues which most affect my life and my ability to function well in a variety of situations are having a hypersensitive olfaction and hypersensitive auditory system. It is extremely challenging. Being careful and cautious about where I choose to live and about what products I buy for personal use, (like for hygiene, grooming, laundry and house cleaning) is just the tip of the iceberg. Where I can go and how quickly I must exit a situation is a constant challenge.

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    • Bailar says:

      I am paranoid about finding where there is a toilet whenever I go somwhere

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      • Sue says:

        I know how you feel. I can’t go to a restaurant unless I know there is a toilet there. I find it hard catching public transport for this reason. I am lucky we can travel on country trains, as there is a toilet on board.

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    • This is a challenge for me as well. I NEED a safe person wherever I go so I don’t melt down and get dragged away by police. In my opinion, there needs to be sensory friendly housing and employment for those of us on the spectrum who cannot handle an “anything goes” environment. This would keep EVERYBODY safer.

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  9. Janis Ram says:

    I have acute sense of smell and view the world through smell. Bad smells really affect me and I’ll avoid these. I’m also affected by light and have been diagnosed with light sensitivity and wear reactive lens, sound also is overbearing when people are talking it becomes a babble and I begin to shut down. So really I have a problem living really :)

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  10. Jack Walden Jr says:

    Now that I am 55 so many things are coming together and making sense.
    Noises really bother me. The sound of second hand TV or radio, crowds at sports, construction, and traffic.
    My wife and I adopted our three children as tottlers and I was spared the crying of babies.
    Recently we kept a 6 month old whose tears help me understand some of the difficulties I had as a 9 year old with a new baby sister who was a sick baby.
    My teachers threatened me with repeating that year of school while telling the community I had the highest IQ in the school.
    I stopped playing with other kids, over ate, and developed a repuptation of being werid that haunts me to this day.
    I cry for that little boy and others that were strongly encouraged to conform instead of being treated for special needs.
    My wife is sensitive to my needs. We have a peaceful quiet home with soothing music and soft lighting.
    Thanks for your work and keeping the noise down.

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  11. gerald says:

    The extra bathroom heat is something I do already, but nice to know I’m not the only one. I find noise to be my constant trigger, the one thing that can always send me into a downward spiral of anger and frustration. It can be as simple as meaningless (to me) conversation, but that’s easy enough to deal with simply by walking away from it (unless I’m trapped) but what really really gets to me is the sound of someone eating with their mouth open, and in my case that applies to my wife and the rest of her family, along with a few of my own, who crunch chips, who talk with their mouths full, who talk too loudly, but mostly who are unaware of the intense disgust that I feel when they’re doing it…

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  12. Julie says:

    My problem is noise and repitive movement…seperate or together. Finger/pen tapping, nail picking, heavy breathing, loud chewing….here mouth movement is really bothersome. Feet swaying if my eye catches the movement I become fixed on it.
    Sudden loud noises make me extremely angry ….however not always.
    I generally hate places filled with people…concerts busy shops, detest cinema feel trapped get very panicked and irritated.
    Feel so upset about these things. ..get angry a lot and frustration can lead to tears.
    Cant sleep with my partner….help in all these arwas would improve my life. Never doagnosed with anything other than depression…tablets dont work. History of aspergers in family and adhd.

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  13. Lisa Horscraft says:

    I think I may have this ! As a child my parents and brother all moved their feet whilst watching tv, usually in circular movements. It drove me to despair – I would hold a book over my eyes to stop me from seeing. I also couldn’t stand any noise if I was trying to read or complete schoolwork- which became difficult in a noisy household. I want to physically harm people who eat with their mouths open. I just assumed I was a violent nutcase !!! Pen tapping and sniffing drive me insane. It is true you have to surround yourself with patient people and lucky for me, I have a partner who is fantastic !!!

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  14. jennifer says:

    I’ve always had problems with taking showers. I don’t like the feel of the water on my back. I have a problem with loud noises and repetitive sounds, it makes me get headaches, and I have problems with tests too. I tried to pass the driving test to get my license and failed. It took me years just to pass the written test to get my permit. I always wondered why it was so hard for me driving but easy for everyone else. now I know. I think your website is good. it helps to know that your not crazy, and that your not alone

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    • Bailar says:

      I never took lessons or a test for the simple fear of failure and being mocked was enough of a deterrent. I was never encouraged by either of my parents and having monocular vision and not being able to judge widths was the perfect excuse to just never do it. But now I wonder if I would have had serious co-ordination problems from Aspergers. And guess what I was a published author writing about car histories for many years when I first began work. Nobody could understand why I just wasn’t interested in driving.

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  15. Bailar says:

    Despite my interest in cars since I was 13 and being a published author of car history books when I began work years ago in Spain I never took lessons or passed a test. I was afraid of failure and the mockery that would follow and having monocular vision and being unable to judge widths was the perfect excuse. Nobody could understand how I could write about cars and not want to drive, and it was this that led to a friend who is a psychiatrist telling me that he suspected I had Aspergers. Sure enough AQ of 44! Anyway, I love cycling!

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  16. Eva says:

    I’m thankful for this article, not only for the advice which is so helpful, but also for the comments that show how frequent and differenciated such disorders seem to be. After spending most of my life, believing I’m a freak, I can see that others have to try and handle the same problems. Friends who come to see me at home should never ever be early; it used to make me react in a bizarre way, I opened the door, but walked away to hide somewhere in my flat. It was weird, even to me. I overcame some of my quirks through meditation practise and guidance (I guess meditation alone might even make it worse) and by learning that all this came from my own mind, so I found out how to develop a less egocentric point of view and to forgive myself for being like this. Yet, I still find it difficult to identify with others and find out about their nonverbal messages.

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  17. Sue says:

    Finally, some answers. All my life I have been overly sensitive to sound, smell and taste. My neighbours end up hating me as I complain about their noise. I hate noisy eaters. I avoid noisy places. I have been told that I am a creature of habit. I have slight OCD. I hate it when people just drop in. I suffer sever separation anxiety and have done since I can remember.

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    • Pat says:

      yep, Sue,
      I’m habitual, can’t break my routine and if it is broken, I have to train my thought to accept the change. White noise, okay but irregular noise, no matter how slight, makes me anxious.
      I’m fearful of new places and require a second person to go with me the first time.
      Won’t eat at a restaurant alone.
      Airports get me anxious. Changing planes scare me.
      I drove rural, light-traffic roads normally but get panic attacks in high-volume traffic.
      Certain textures repulse me.
      People frighten me; animals calm me.
      I’ve learned compassion, it wasn’t natural!
      My sister died at 8 (cancer); I was 9 and I never experienced grief. I had real guilt because I was aware I had no feelings for the loss of my sister!
      It’s a great feeling to understand why I was disconnected from the grief in our house at that time.

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  18. Emma says:

    This sounds just like my daughter she was wrongfully diagnosed with autism at 2 because she didn’t talk but has now been referred to see an asperger specialist in September shes going to be 8 by then and starts juniors this year which im really worried about as shes already being teased :( she is tactile defensive and hyper sensitive the occupational therapist referred her as he thinks she is an aspie but cannot make a formal diagnosis himself xxx

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    • Ben says:

      Hi Emma,
      I think it is great that you have realized this stuff now because the earlier your daughter is properly diagnosed the better. It is interesting too that she had previously been thought to be autistic because of the similarities between autism and aspergers. As the specialist will tell you they now call aspergers an “Autism Specturm Disorder”.
      Good on you for paying attention and I wish you both luck in finding a good set of coping methods for your daughter.
      I’m 31 and now diagnosed as Aspergers. I have had many misdiagnosis throughout my time.

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  19. paula says:

    i have some hearing problems with very low noises and very loud sudden noises….
    i have a joy of day/sun light, but problems with some artificial lights, strong sunshine and night time lights (e.g. car headlights)…
    with touch/feel, its certian fabrics, foods(not too many) and quite a few mouth feel type things, ( e.g. licking envelopes, raspy type stuff) …..
    with smells, there are some i love!but loads i dont, perfume,strong sents,or meat cooking are soooo not good. but i also dont like to smell/feel water and the self care products that most use, hence i dont very often do self care….

    im 48, and have know since a very young age i was different to others… i think though knowing there are other peeps similar to me will help me a lot…

    paula xx

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    • Jo says:

      I have problems focusing on anything when there are people around talking or any extraneous noise. And yet if I am on a task and the phone rings I don’t notice it ringing!

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  20. Nicole says:

    I have difficulty driving. I have for several years now. I have an anxiety attack when I get in the car. I used to love driving. It has affected all facets of my life. I have seen a therapist and tried EDMR (?). No luck.
    Does anyone have any suggestions?

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    • Rita says:

      Also have trouble driving, but my business forces me to drive around 15.000 mls a year. Have recently found much relief driving in my new compact car… i prefer the small space. The windows are tinted as dark as is legally allowed, which lowers distractions, makes it easier for me to ignore rude drivers. Keep soothing music on the music system or complete silence. I explore my route ahead of time. I avoid high traffic times of the day. ANd i take back roads whenever possible. Also, try a bit of powdered magnesium in water before hitting the road, it lowers anxiety and helps me stay calm. a mere teaspoon can help, much more and i want to take a nap, which is not good in a car. hope this helps.

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  21. Lamoree DeVilch says:

    Probably the thing I struggle most with is personal space. If someone walks up and hugs me briefly, as long as it’s someone I know, I’m fine. If several people walk up however, even if it’s people I know, I can start to panic, especially if they get on both sides or are behind me. I do not like people standing behind me because I can tell they’re there; like a sixth sense almost.
    My hearing is highly sensitive also, but it varies. Some days I just want loudness; loud music at a high volume. Other days the smallest noises drive me nuts; the dogs nails on the hardwood floor, someone eating a crunchy food by me, or talking loudly – alot of people talking at once bothers me to, or when I’m watching TV and someone starts talking over it.

    Several ‘survival’ techniques I’ve found are moving so that people are in front of me, not behind or on both sides. Leaving the room when someone is eating loud foods. Plugging my ears when noises are competing. Stepping backwards slightly or leaning away from the person talking loudly. My iPod has proven priceless for listening to music; no matter where I go, it’s always there, at the same volume, and I don’t miss my favourite songs when I go upstairs, or go downstairs etc.

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  22. Renee Fox-Rowe says:

    My husband says I have a super snout; sensitive to smells but I find it strange he and his grown children cannot smell BO or cat box but dislike good fragrances.
    I am really sensitive to flourescent lighting, especially in malls and Costco and big-box stores, and formerly school. I want to run outside in less than 5 minutes.
    Clothing labels make me crazy.
    open-mouth chewing is practically unbearable.
    Tapping, clicking, beeping sounds are just too annoying for words.

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  23. Samuel Mulei says:

    I am 29 yrs an Aspie 39 on the scale.My senses of smell and taste are heightened i have developed a kind of mental record keeping where i associate certain smells and body odours with particular people (faces) i know.If i catch a whif of that scent later i automatically expect to see a specific person.Scents overwhelm me especially strong scented perfumes and colognes.I live in Africa Kenya more specifically and, i love going on safari soon after it rains in the parks just to wind down the car windows and take in the smell of wet grass and soil. something about that calms me down so much.My sense of taste is heightened too, i dislike the taste of most foods especially the after taste of eggs, hotdogs. i find much comfort in fruits, milk and some bitter vegetables only found in eastern africa very nutritious as they keep flus and skin conditions at bay.

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  24. Ben says:

    Hi there,
    I’m 31 years old and I have recently been diagnosed as having Aspergers Syndrome. I too suffer Sensory Processing Disorder and out of all of the Aspergers traits it is the one I notice the most. My greatest trouble (but not limited to) is with sounds.
    I absolutely cannot handle the sound of noisy eating and I’m glad to see that a lot of you agree with me. For me it is the lip slapping and slurping noises that noisy eaters make. I too need to leave the room when someone is eating with their mouth open. It drives me nuts when I’m at a cafe. I find very noisy people hard to deal with and when I am at a cafe near a bunch of laughing, screaming, noisy people I either need to block my ears or leave. I can cope with a noisy bar because the sounds are all blended together but I find it very hard to communicate with people in that kind of environment. I tend to just sit there and enjoy watching the people around me.

    I find it hard to deal with very gusty wind. The kind that keeps blowing your hat off. It makes me feel very restless and unsettled. When it’s very windy I wear big jackets and a beanie. I walk around looking like the Michelin Man. It’s like a suit of armor.
    I will only enjoy wearing one brand of socks. Explorers.They are very thick woolen socks.
    Snoring will keep me awake all night.
    Sniffling is hard to ignore.
    I hate feeling sweaty.
    I don’t function well in the cold.
    Ticking clocks can drive me nuts but I eventually get used to it for a while.

    I too am bothered if I can see someone flapping their foot or stroking a tv remote while watching tv. It completely draws my attention and I also hold up a cushion or a book so as to block my view of their repetitive action.

    On the AC test I only score 28 but even at a mild Aspergers score I can tell you now that these little things can really destroy ones quality of life and make me feel extremely bad if I cannot escape them.
    It is common that people will blame an aspie for not being able to cope with these seemingly minor things. I am glad to have found this artical and also to know that other people have the same issues with this stuff.
    Thank you all for sharing your stories.

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  25. Stephanie says:

    Overwhelmingly sensitive to noise. Lawn mowers, low bass on radios, noise from street lights, refrigerators, those square boxes on cords, fan motors on computers, light bulbs, power lines. Life can be a living hell with something in your own home that you can’t get away from.

    I almost had a nervous breakdown because of a combination of a new security light and a phone. After a storm the electric company changed the security light and the sensor on top that tells it when to come on made a horrible noise as well as the phone that someone gave us.

    The stress in my body, the knotted up nerves in my neck were giving me severe headaches and I just didn’t know where the noise was coming from and my husband couldn’t hear it.

    It got so bad I made him turn off all of the power in the house. I could still hear the noise.

    Those amplifiers (don’t know if that’s what they are called or not) those boxes on the power cords, some of them make a hum/ringing noise and it doesn’t go away just because the power gets cut off for short period of time.

    But once I threw the phone out and had the power company remove the light, I literally almost collapsed from relief. Like the power being turned off in an electrically charged field and it letting you go. The knots in my neck and shoulders just un-bunched and I cried my eyes out from relief.

    The more stressed out I am the more it bothers me.

    Florescent lighting always bothers me. It also makes my dyslexia worse and I can hear it.

    But the strange thing is, I have no sense in how loud or quietly I am talking. I’ve had times where people are always telling me to “speak up” because they can’t hear me and other times where people are telling me to tone it down because I’m speaking too loud.

    A lot of that has to do with background noise. Not really loud background noise but something that irritates me on a lower level (doesn’t stress me out to the max, but just irritates me) I end up raising my voice.

    I rarely use scents in my home, even perfumes. Can’t deal with it.

    Also sensitive to temperature. Perfect temperature to me is 82 degrees F.

    Below 78 makes me feel extremely cold. I can’t deal with air conditioning. Between the noise and the cold it drives me nuts. The only time I will use it is when it is medically necessary.

    Above 85 and I feel like I’m being cooked to death. Which is horrible really. My husband feels like an oven when I touch him sometimes and I don’t even want him to touch me then.

    However, I can’t stand cold food unless it is really cold like ice cream. I can’t deal with really cold potato salad it has to get more room temp before I can eat it.

    Lukewarm food really is disgusting if it is supposed to be hot.

    The only time this doesn’t bother me is with coffee. I either drink it hot or room temp, but rarely in between. It took me twenty years to try it iced.

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  26. Steve Cooke says:

    Wow! I am pretty much all of the above, hypersensitive to most sounds, able to hear things others can’t, noticing things others can’t, the ‘memory like an elephant’ etc etc. Never been diagnosed with AS but it was thought that as a child I had autism but seemed to ‘grow’ out of it by the time I was 5 years old (this was back in the 1960’s), although I never actually believed that myself, just thought I was different in many ways to other children/people. Took the AQ Test just a couple of days ago, online, and scored 37.

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  27. Sharon says:

    When I have too much going on, my senses get completely disoriented, and I stop being able to process information. I cannot process too many sounds, voices, music, conversations, etc at he same time. The “gray” light on days that are not sunny bothers me a lot. The bright light on sunny days makes me feel like I’m going to pass out at times, and I prefer to stay inside. I broke my nose a few years ago so my sense of smell does not work well; however, when it works, a lot of smells cause me to feel sick or to have strong allergic reactions. I cannot be anywhere close to people that smoke or that wear strong fragrances. I am very sensitive to changes in temperature and weather. I am also very sensitive to touch, sometimes it is a “good thing”, but sometimes it can be very bothersome and uncomfortable depending on the situation. I love hugs and massages…. My dad used to give me “bear hugs” that I would request at times to be extra strong. They would get a lot of the uncomfortable feelings in my body go away. Heavy blankets/covers help too. I cannot have hot drinks at all. Ice cream wooden sticks/spoons are bad. I cannot stand touching things made out of metal or hearing their sound. Things made out of leather are usually not okay either. Hey, I can keep going….lol…too much.

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  28. I just made a rather lengthy post on my blog about how sounds affect me. I find that I am hypersensitive, particularly during times when I am tired, such as first thing in the morning. If you’re interested in the entire post it’s here:


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  29. Roger says:

    I hadn’t really thought about it that muchm and I’m hoping its not hypochondria, but looking back I also have some of these problems.

    I have a lot of difficulty differentiating peoples voices from background noise making it very hard to follow a conversation in even a small group. Though louder noises are ok, small noises irritate me .. like buzzing and ticking. Some smells also have a strong impact, mostly pleasant but some making me feel physically ill. Sometimes tags and seams are overly irritating, but not too often. When younger I always used to have to have the sheets and blankets tightly tucked in so I couldn’t move. I also felt like thing were crawling on my skin when nothing was there.

    Fortunately most of these don’t get in the way too much (apart from the problems following conversations), but reading the article and comments certainly gave me a few “Oh yeah, I know what you mean” moments.

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  30. Amy says:

    I cannot stand synthetic fibers, period. I hate that feeling on my skin. I cannot tolerate wool on my skin. I cannot stand to be too warm. I must have moving air on me if near me. I hate humidity. I am extremely sensitive to changes in air pressure due to weather or even riding in elevators or flying. I cannot eat most fruits because of the seeds, threads, textures, sliminess. I cannot eat yogurt or oysters due to the sliminess. I cannot eat mayonnaise because of the smell. I am ticklish over my entire body always. Sometimes too many conversations and talking around me overwhelms me and I have to put on noise canceling headphones. I had tags in my clothes and always remove them if I can’t find what I want without tags. I hate seams in socks. My tennis shoes can it be too loose or too tight. I will untie and retie them until they are just right. I cannot stand to use public restrooms because of the smells and the noises people’s bodies make, mine included. That’s a start.

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  31. Jackie says:

    I have been hyper-sensitive to noise all my life and cope with it by avoidance. I say cope but I guess that’s not really true as avoidance has cost me dearly in many ways. I am new to this site and am still a little over-whelmed by how much sense a lot of this information is making to me – I am not sure quite what to do next and am worried that I wont be listened to if I seek a formal diagnosis as I also have a history of anxiety/depression. Thanks to everyone behind this site and to everyone who contributes, tis info is like having a mirror held up to me.

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  32. Jerry Jewler says:

    I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder around 16 years ago and it was a relief to be able to understand why I was so different from most people I knew. Though I never have been diagnosed with Asperger’s, I can relate to the comments on this blog. People with loud voices drive me crazy. When I overload on tasks, I fall apart and nothing seems to alleviate my sense of disappointment because I begin having trouble understanding directions or fact sheets, etc. I have problems being in large crowds, but lately have found a way to feel much less inhibited in this situation. I am a loner, save for my wonderful wife and children. I conduct tours as a volunteer at several organizations and constantly fear I’m going to screw up, but in reality I find I’ve done a very good job once the event is over. I guess I need to ask my therapist about Asperger’s, but I’m even afraid to broach the topic. I have real meltdowns when I overbook myself and often miss events because I can’t keep them all straight in my head, even though I post them on a calendar. Comments on this site have helped me understand why I’m beyond bipolar…and I am so grateful that so many others have the same reactions that I have had most of my life. Thanks.

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  33. Jack says:

    Retired. Moved from my nice home in Philadelphia to a cottage in the woods. Quiet!
    Yapping dogs and ice cream trucks drove me to distraction. Maine is sweet. (Fridge is a little too noisey. Watcha gonna do.

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  34. MelsPartner says:

    I have recently realised I too have Aspergers years after my sisters and family had all realised but hadn’t said anything to me. I have difficulties with bright lights well what is normal to others is bright to me. I’d happily walk around in the dark. And I love strong hugs but even more than that I love to put my feet under people. Or under a heavy / firm weight. My taste buds are hypo sensetive though leaving me craving strong flavours Indian etc.

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  35. Graham m says:

    I’m male, 69 and have always thought I was weird. I really do not like loud music and going shopping with loud music drives me insane. I also don’t like strong smelling perfume, my poor wife has French perfume and can’t wear it around me. I don’t socialize, although an extravert, but talk nonstop until I am high as a kite. Later feel awful and my brain won’t shut up, sometimes for days. But apparently am quite intelligent and gained high scores at University. Now, stay home with my dog and suffer with depression, actually have always been depressed

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  36. Norman Masterton says:

    Well! I’m not sure yet,I’m going to chat to the doc for the first time about this in the coming week.But I’ve had similar symptems all my life as far as hypersensitivity goes.I have to ware lairs all the time,all year round,can’t handle waring a t-shirt on its own.Can’t bare light touch,or handle light breezes on the bare skin.I need heavy covers in my bed,all year round,not matter the heat.I always have a neck wormer all year round to protect my neck,summertime too.I get really anxious over little things and it runs around in my head for ages,sometimes takes me all my energy just to calm down,by which time I’m exhausted .Sleeping can be a big problem,reason for me doing this at the moment lol.Apparently arthritis plays it’s part in the sleeping disorder too.I don’t think any of this would be noticed without me telling though.
    I also have a huge difficulty in relaying messages from the phone or catching them from speakers in a warehouse or similar.I also keep missing stuff at meetings or in the morning when we are givin our jobs for the day,usually everything,then just wing it when we get to the job.My concentration is particularly bad.I’ve never been good in group talks alway better one to one.Its just resently that I’ve considered myself to be in the spectrum as my newest niece was diagnosed an we have a young apprentice who had be diagnosed too an he reminds me of myself when I was an apprentice.But,,,,,,we’ll see what the doc says :-).

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  37. Becky Carter says:

    I was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism as a child but received no treatment. I did not look into the symptoms until recently when Susan Boyle said she suffered from it. Seeing the symptoms of Asperger’s was like seeing the scattered puzzle pieces of my unique, bizarre and painful life suddenly come together to form a clear picture of what I am dealing with and that I am not alone. I didn’t learn this until now at age 58.

    My sensory issues have made me tell my husband that he needs to see his doctor about his inability to smell the strong odors that are driving me crazy. Auditory sensitivity makes me the only person at a church with amplified music with my fingers in my ears, assuming that every one around me must have lost their hearing from too many rock concerts. Now I know it’s not them, it’s me.

    I’ve found that some pains caused by sensitivities can be relieved by getting totally off of all forms of caffeine (and stimulants such as Ginseng, ECGC from green tea, guarana, etc.) and with an anti-anxiety med, tricyclic anti depressant, anticonvulsant and an antispasmodic. These worked well at first, but now just make the pains bearable. I wonder if these treatments have been used in Asperger’s. You don’t want to take meds unless you are disabled and there are no options. But I strongly recommend that hypersenstives get off stimulants–especially coffee!

    I will start therapy for dealing with the effects of hypersensitivity in January. I have not yet taken the Asperger’s test from a doctor, so I have been diagnosed with a mysterious hypersensitivity throughout my body (auto immune problems and allergies have been ruled out) and my insurance company is tired of paying for so many tests that show no cause for pains and discomforts.

    I have a short list of allowable food and drink because so many things not only hurt my mouth, but my entire digestive system, especially my bladder. Even my skin issues are diagnosed as hypersensitivity caused by anxiety. I really need to get the Asperger’s diagnosis before these pain therapists (who treat people who suffer pain caused by anxiety and hypersensitive brains and nervous systems) work with me starting in a few days so they will better understand the potential cause of some of these painful sensitivites.

    I was wondering if Asperger’s sensory sensitivities can affect internal organs, especially the digestive system via acidic and spicy foods.

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  38. Richard Farrer says:

    This all makes so much sense.

    My night vision used to be extremely acute and I can still read in lower light than anyone I know. I also read while walking because I find that I can navigate quite well
    using peripheral vision, hearing and even smell (particularly smokers).

    At work I hear all of the conversations round me to the extent that I’ve given up trying to pretend. At parties I often cannot hear the person I’m talking to because of the background noise.

    I have a reputation for not feeling the cold but I do like to wrap myself tightly in duvets and I definitely like hugs, although I don’t get the chances I would want – not least because I don’t have the ‘knack’ of socialising.

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  39. Dr Dan Webb says:

    I am awaiting assessment for Asperger’s. I have always had a sensitivity to noise.
    I have three young children and when they are all making noise I am sent into a state of psychological paralysis.

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  40. Jodie says:

    I get overwhelmed and visually confused in grocery stores and department stores. There are so many things and they disorient me. Some of the colors get really bright and appear to glow. Shadows at night glow bright purple and it can be blinding and cause an anxiety attack. I hate loud noises and raised voices. I register it as pain. I get very angry as a result. I have tourettes and like to cover my ears a lot. I have sensitive smell and taste and I will spit most food out if it doesn’t taste right…which is often. Lots of food is rotten but my parents are eating it and unable to taste that it is bad. Compression does help a lot. Covering my head and ears, or wrapping a blanket around myself (and over my head making a small fort) and pulling on the edges tight will calm me down. They said I had traumatic head injury syndrome. I see patterns in walls and floors and they diagnosed me with partial seizure syndrome. I get overwhelmed by my emotions and other people and all of their details all in one room. I can only focus on one person……I have never been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. This seems new to me.

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  41. Andrew Willson says:

    Its an understatement to say this all now make’s sense, the sound of butter being scrapped on toast sent shivers down my spine,I avoid social events altogether now as I cant talk and listen to the person infront of me as all I can hear is the”noise” all around me, my mother twirled her foot when watching tv, I had to leave the room to stop watching her foot and the fact I cant sleep without my heavy blanket on the duvet even in summer.it suddenly all makes sense now.

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  42. Teresa says:

    Ditto to the smells, noises and twirling feet! I avoid crowds because they smell like they marinated in their perfume overnight before getting out in public. My mother twirled her foot watching TV and I would fixate on it wondering if she’d ever stop. I will say something serious to a co-worker and he or she will laugh and tell me that was a good joke. That has happened to me all my life. I’ve always made a papoose out of my blanket so I can sleep feeling secure. My dad always said I wouldn’t eat watermelon because of “the strings.” Pasta is like some slick slimy creature. I went to school in Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana. I was told in every school that I had the highest IQ ever scored there. I got in trouble once because my teacher said I should do what everybody else is doing. I asked her if I am the smartest one in the school, shouldn’t everybody else be doing what I am doing? (She was always on my case about everything.) I am 60 and scored 44 on the test. My parents took me to see doctors in the late fifties and early sixties due to migraines and I’m not sure what else. They were told I was “stressed.” Well….yeah. Thanks for listening.

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  43. lillian says:

    I took the AQ test and scored a 35. My daughter always joked that I have Asperger’s because I don’t take social cues very well. It’s very difficult for me to figure out what motivates other people to do what they do. I do not like parties, at all, and avoid them as often as possible. Small talk bores me to tears. I cannot bear to listen to gossip. I just don’t understand why anyone would want to engage in hateful, hurtful gossip and apparently enjoy the experrience. I do not like driving but have to for my job. I am constantly having to drive, meet new people, engage in some degree of small talk, and may visit up to a dozen different offices a day. Consequently, by the time I get home, I have sensory overload. I have the same best friend that I have had since tenth grade and have never felt the need for more than a few close friends. Because I have an IQ in the top one percentile, I have learned to pretend to be less intelligent than I am most of the time or I would have fewer friends than I do. My desk at work is extremely neat, with no clutter. Clutter feels like visual noise to me. I am a detail person but cannot notice subtle differences (in my opinion) in skin color, hair color, or women’s makeup. I have prosopagnosia (face blindness) and cannot recognize the faces of people I have met before. So that is an added social stressor. I do not enjoy alcohol and bars are my idea of hell on Earth rather than a good place to meet people. I need to spend a lot af time by myself just to recharge my energy. Does anyone else have these reactions to social interaction?

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  44. Jacqui says:

    Hi, I’m not sure if I have Asperger’s, but will be assessed. I relate to much of what Lillian said, especially about parties, small talk & only needing a few close friends. I dislike meeting new people, especially in group situations & unstructured social situations. I will only go to church if my mum is going too (I’m 52) so she can save me a seat & I know who I’ll be sitting with & can walk straight to the seat & not mingle. I’ve always thought I was just being silly / childish, but just couldn’t bring myself to go & just sit anywhere, with anyone. I did the AQ test 3 times (to allow for answers that would vary depending on the details of a situation) & scored 40, 33, & 31. I’ve had people-problems all my life & been bullied through school (from 5 – 17) so much so I avoided A-levels & Uni’, just to get away. Work was as bad, the bullying just followed me! It was a form of hell being there, so eventually became anorexic & had IBS & had to leave. I’ve had some problems with neighbours & I’m beginning to think the problem is me! I’ve suffered depression & social phobia & anxiety-related illnesses for most of my life. I don’t work because of all this & feel guilty about it, but afraid of having to. I’ve been told, over the years, that I am “too serious, too sensitive, too fussy, too straight-laced, too intense, & that I am too cold / uncaring, talk too loud, talk too much (especially on certain subjects) & don’t talk enough (social chit chat) & as a child I had to be persuaded to spend time with other children & could never stand my mother hugging / touching me (or most others) but was always ok with a few people, such as my father. I could go on….. but I think I’ve said enough. Anyone relate to me?

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  45. Hazel says:

    I have recently become aware that I have asperger’s, although this is not diagnosed. It just helps to understand myself and realise why I have had the problems that have plagued my life so far. I no longer feel I’m not normal, I am normal for someone with Asperger’s.
    I have never picked up on my sensory problems until now. I suffered with these mostly during stressful periods in my life. Starting as a teenager I began to have extreme visual migraines. I would get the blurred vision, followed by loss of some vision, then loss of comprehension and speech (I would muddle words in a sentence and type my parents phone number into the phone in a muddled order despite saying them out loud in my head). This was triggered through stress and coupled with a sensitivity for artificial lights. More recently during another stressful period I began to get vertigo whilst working at the computer. I would start by feeling dizzy from the light, unable to walk without holding on, then being physically sick. On one occasion I collapsed onto the kitchen floor, shivering. After an hour I mustered the strength to crawl to the telephone which made me even more nauseous. I called my mum and could barely speak. When my mum finally arrived I could not move or speak, my pulse dropped to hardly anything and I genuinely felt that my body was going to shut down completely and my heart stop. Ironically, at this point, it was the most peaceful and inexplicably nice feeling I’ve ever had in my life. I was rushed to the hospital and within a day or so back to normal. The only diagnosis I could be given at this period was meniere’s disease but it did not sound right to me and I have not experienced it again since. I still feel dizzy at times, in supermarkets or from artificial lights and now realise that it was probably a part of the asperger’s.
    Have any others experienced either the migraines or vertigo from artificial lights or caused by stress?

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  46. anne says:

    Yes. I´m 61 and was dxéd last summer. Among many symptoms, I haven´t understood before, is the tendency to vertigo.
    I use walls for support, when I go down stairs and I often get dizzy when turning my head. My neck is a bit of a problem, and as I often have to get off my bike in order to look behind me, I thought, that my neck was the cause of my vertigo. A very good physiotherapist said it isn´t, – and there is nothing wrong with my ears i spite of many symptoms and oversensitivities there too. At a meeting in an autism group, I learned, that vertigo is very common . It can be triggered different Things. Certain low frequence sounds (motors), sometimes lights and especially “nerves” are the worst triggers for me. Sometimes it is because, I can´t judge depth.
    It is a common part of aspergers.

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  47. anne says:

    Absolutely. My balance has never been super. I use wall for support when going down stairs and have to get off my bike in order to look behind me. I thought, it was a result of my neck problems, – but the phys. said no. Stress/anxiety can cause strong vertigo (my doc suspected meniere at a point, but it was anxietyattacks). Artificial light can make me dizzy sometimes. Only sounds can make me nauseous.

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  48. Alice says:

    I have Autism and severe sensory overload to loud music whether it’s from a car or inside a house when it fills my house. Bouncing basketballs really does a number on my senses as well. Both illegal activities when the music is that loud and kids play with balls in the street.

    Things have been much better for me now that I have educated myself what the laws are in my city’s ordinances where I haven’t had to call the police for quite some time now, but remind the offenders of what the law is. And when they threaten to call the police on me I tell them to go ahead as I made our police department aware of some of the illegal activities these people are engaging in. I’ve already had the police called on me to back fire on them, because barking dogs are not allowed in the city either. I’ve tried talking to these noisy neighbors just to get a good ass chewing. I’ve even tried making them aware that I’m Autistic with a sensory processing disorder and they just don’t care until a got really proactive and started doing something about it.

    Any of you who lives in a city may want to check into your city ordinances if you have noisy neighbors like me.

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  49. charnelle says:

    This describes me really well. Never understood before why I had issues with loud noise or certain textures (like the insides of socks) but this article helped to explain that it is this ‘sensory processing disorder’ Is that why I stress out when people around me raise their voices- even by a small amount but can’t smell basic things that others can?

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  50. Ashe says:

    So many Aspies and Auties! Hi guys! I’ve got (suspected) Asperger’s too. =)

    Most of my issues are easy to deal with. My husband drives at night because of my issues with headlights (I’m in the process of finding those rumoured anti-glare sunglasses), we keep separate seasonings out at meals so I can avoid salt and overload on pepper (mmm, cayenne!), we keep lots of blankets on my half of the bed so I can get that wonderful pressure without barbecuing my husband, and we’re working on how to deal with my sensitive hearing. I’m also clumsy, but have great balance. Go figure. All in all, it can be a bit of a nuisance, especially when my husband or toddler want to game with the TV turned up way too loud, but it’s all manageable and just one of my many quirks. The sensitivities come in handy, like judging temperature when my kid was an infant, being able to hear well, and I’ve smelled out bad food and gas leaks in other places rather quickly. Pros and cons to everything, right? Gotta take the good with the bad.

    But cleaning is hell. For one thing, I can’t see dirt unless it’s in a big pile. I often don’t know if I’ve swept anything off the floor until I see a mass of it in the dustpan. And don’t get me started on those disgusting chemicals! I can’t even do vinegar, it makes me really nauseous. I’ve been chewed out and ridiculed by both family and coworkers for it. I don’t understand why I can be a very dependable and hard worker that my bosses praise to no end, but as soon as they find out bleach is my Kryptonite they say they wish they’d never hired me and threaten to fire me. I’m not diagnosed with anything at all by a doctor, so the ADA act doesn’t cover me. Especially in a “right to fire” state.

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  51. Laura says:

    Life with this thing is painful, to be sure. I’m 53 and was never diagnosed…they only catch the depression and anxiety, which are the symptoms not the diagnosis. I scored 32. I managed to hold down responsible casework jobs for years (partially because rules and regulations are a special area of interest of mine) before getting married for the second time and quitting. I’m so sensitive to odors and fragrance my doctor says I’m chemically sensitive. I can only use a few products on my hypersensitive skin. Tags or pills on clothes hurt. Bright light does too and constant music in the background will make me angry if I let it. Classical is sometimes easier to bear. Social interaction is the bane of my life…my one friend in junior high and high school saved me from being bullied, though I was still bullied at home until I was a teenager and stopped allowing it. If you show up at my house unannounced I will hide and pretend not to be home. My first husband couldn’t deal with my “antisocial” behavior and ended up finding a hyper-social replacement. From the frying pan into the fire, poor guy. Other symptoms of AS I have are that I am a human spellcheck, I often talk too loud, stand too close, stare at people without realizing I’m doing it, have to read blogs to make sure I’m dressing appropriately, have no close friends beside my husband (and don’t often feel the need for them but sometimes am crushingly lonely), am hypersensitive to criticism and tend to become very angry at any small slight. Yet I learned compassion and empathy and found God through all these many painful experiences, so there is a silver lining. AS in girls and women was not understood by psychologists back in the 70’s…just my bad luck. But for those of you still young, I pray you get help to make your lives more bearable.

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  52. Laura says:

    Forgot to add that I too get migraines and have episodes of vertigo. I love what one person wrote here, that she is no longer abnormal, but normal for a person with AS.

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  53. Lynda says:

    I absolutely cannot stand being in high-sensory situations, loud talkers, loud music, a lot of movement, a lot of conversations, movies etc. it ruins me for days, exhausts me and puts me on a very irritable edge. I have one social group left, but due to a very loud talker, I can’t handle it any longer. I am 58 and my mom always said I had autism. I am high functioning and on tests I have taken I score high for high-functioning aspergers. I have so many of the markers. Doctors tell me there is no reason to put an official diagnostic label on me at my age. I still deal with it all daily. I have never been able to tolerate very many things and people think I’m odd and have a “poor personality.”

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  54. Philomena says:

    Recently I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at 71 yrs. My whole life I suffered from social anxiety, depression and loneliness, and all that comes with it. My grandson was diagnosed in 2009 and it never occurred to me that I could have it too. Until I started to play clarinet in a Concert Band. The conductor loved jokes. The members loved socializing. For me it was absolutely unbearable. I told them I was struggling. They answered I looked at it the wrong way, I didn’t need to be perfect. But I wasn’t trying to be perfect. The saxophones and brass sounded like an army of fog horns behind me. I became severely depressed. I don’t know what triggered my search, but one day I googled Women and Asperger’s Syndrome. And here I am, working hard to make sense of my life. Relieved above all. I am not that “old mad woman playing games” that some people said I was. I definitely discovered my worst sensory issues in a Concert Band!

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  55. Philomena D. says:

    Recently I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at 71 yrs. My whole life I suffered from social anxiety, depression and loneliness, and all that comes with it. My grandson was diagnosed in 2009 and it never occurred to me that I could have it too. Until I started to play clarinet in a Concert Band. The conductor loved jokes. The members loved socializing. For me it was absolutely unbearable. I told them I was struggling. They answered I looked at it the wrong way, I didn’t need to be perfect. But I wasn’t trying to be perfect. The saxophones and brass sounded like an army of fog horns behind me. I became severely depressed. I don’t know what triggered my search, but one day I googled Women and Asperger’s Syndrome. And here I am, working hard to make sense of my life. Relieved above all. I am not that “old mad woman playing games” that some people said I was.

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  56. Kat says:

    Guys, you have no idea… I almost cried reading all the comments. My entire life I thought I was weird, and “broken” because of how I feel. My sense of smell is really keen, I never wore perfumes as they give me a headache; I cannot stand the heat but I am resilient to cold and pain (I have huge tattoos and I barely felt a prick when getting them). All the examples above just struck me light lightning! The “grey days” light, the night car lights, the people chewing with their mouths open (I want to punch them in the face and I could never explain myself why I felt that repulse), clothes tag and seams, stuff that is not too loud for other people it is for me (I take the train every morning, if there is a fast train passing by on the platform I am the only one covering her ears) yet I like music sometimes even loud. I can hear a tap dropping two rooms away, yet if there is a background buzz I can’t hear the TV nor what my husband says – let alone go in public places! I always hated parties, not only because I cannot chit-chat easily, but also because the noise prevents me from hearing what the people in front of me is trying to tell me… I cannot stand petty conversation around me, on the train every day I have to have the iPod on, otherwise I risk a meltdown. I almost have panic attacks if I forget the iPod at home LOL! 😀 It all figures, even if I don’t have an official diagnosis I scored 35 on the AQ so I am pretty confident I have Asperger’s and it would just explain everything. I am not weird, wrong or “broken” – I am a perfectly normal Aspie :)

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