Sensory Defensiveness

Jenny gets it.

Jenny gets it.

Sensory Defensiveness is a condition that people can be born with, or develop through different situations. It is a condition that causes distress to someone who is being exposed to certain stimuli. These stimuli can be to any of the senses. Examples include having an intolerance to chewing noises, pain from contact with everyday stuff like silk, or difficulty maintaining eye contact. It is a condition most closely correlated to autism. I do not have a diagnosis of this condition. I do, however, have some of these intolerant reactions, for my own reasons.

My ears ring, all the time. So, some sounds are difficult for me to listen to. I become nauseated when I hear shrill voices, like the ones small children have when they are really excited about something. Exposure to these kinds of sounds has actually made me throw up. I can’t tell you how often I have to ask our son to stop talking to the cats and/or television, just because of the voice he adopts.

There are some things I just can’t eat. The texture of celery crunching inside my mouth is literally painful for me. I also have to avoid milk most of the time, because it always smells rotten, and can make me become nauseated. I have learned that no-fat milk is the least offensive, and as long as I put something in it, I can drink it. So, I usually use milk in my protein shakes, because then it doesn’t smell like milk anymore (I just don’t smell it until it’s all mixed up). When someone wants me to check the milk, I will sometimes try, but I always give up, because it just flat out smells spoiled to me all the time.

The rest of the time, I just get too many sensory inputs at once. If I’m interrupted in the middle of reading something, my mind just keeps repeating the last few words of print over and over again. It makes it hard to work at home, because the kids and Jenny all need me to talk to them. There are all kinds of other inputs, though. I have emails, and videos, phone calls, texts, math questions from the kids, you name it. It can all be too much sometimes. There are days when I find myself going into the bathroom, turning on the fan (for white noise), and sitting in there with my eyes closed. Other times, I put on headphones, listen to music, and hunch over my computer like, well, a crazy person, all defensive and stuff. Don’t ask why adding another input, like music, can help. It just does… maybe because then I can’t hear anything else?

I’m not saying my experience is enough to consider myself as having Sensory Defensiveness. I’m just trying to say that I can relate. Do you know anyone with Sensory Defensiveness? Please let me know! Carry on.

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  1. Brandi Sanders

    I can’t say that I have sensory defensiveness, but I also share symptoms. Hearing someone chew makes me extremely nauseous, certain sounds make me incredibly angry (as in heart pounding/racing, sweating, shaking, wanting to punch something angry), and too much noise in the mornings gives me an anxiety attack. Large, noisy crowds, screaming or crying children, whining, yelling, snoring… it all causes some unfavorable reaction, then I get very angry with myself because I can’t control it. But then, I am angry with myself most of the time…
    Thanks for sharing this! This is yet another of the many things I deal with every day but just couldn’t explain.

    • I’m glad I was able to put things into words for you, as always. Much love, my friend, and I hope we can see you soon!

  2. There are times when any sort of music is intolerable to me. This happens when I am depressed. I don’t want to hear it. It’s not the content, but the noise. I get earwigs for songs. Snatches that play randomly or for days. No matter what I do, they will not go away until they’ve run their course. No other music can drown it out.

    My ears ring, too. Some say it can be blood pressure, but mine is normal. Some say it can be sinuses, all right, so maybe that. Ringing is forefront sometimes, but other times, I can ignore it.

    I’ve also noticed that ‘cheese’ flavors stuff like mash potatoes taste like a gym bag smells. Those are what I can think of right now. You are not alone, Rory.

  3. I am very sensitive to loud noises (and some days everything seems loud). At best it makes me anxious, and at worst it makes me lash out in anger because it stresses me out so much. I agree that music helps, because it mellows everything else out and gives me something pleasing to focus on. I have a lot of sensitivity toward lights, smells, textures, etc. but I would say sounds are the worst for me. It makes me wonder if perhaps I have a form of Sensory Defensiveness, but then again I’m a hypochondriac so of course I would think that after reading about it lol

    • I understand. I have jumped to big conclusions about my own diagnoses in the past, and I was always wrong. Not a bad thing to keep in mind 🙂

  4. …and I have no idea why that previous comment logged me into someone else’s account (apparently there’s someone with a bipolarly wordpress account) but it’s just me, Amy from 🙂 Hopefully I fixed it.

    • Yup that’s me, thankfully I don’t think you actually logged in to my account, you just used my blog address as your commenter name. Anyways, hello clone!

  5. Pingback: Sensory Defensiveness, or This is Why I Duct Taped Your Mouth Shut | Geekmomster

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