When I was a kid, I vividly remember multiple occasions and experiences that caused immense stress. There were so many things that bothered me and depending on the day, the experience was sometimes debilitating. All I knew was that I couldn't think or focus on anything expect for the stimuli that was causing my anxiety. In these particular circumstances, I would always try to leave the room, try to stop thinking about the experience, and cover my ears and eyes. At the time, I didn't know what I was feeling was sensory overload until recently in my life now. Each time I experienced this intense anxiety, I thought the issue was myself and that there was something just wrong with me as no one else around me seemed to understand or feel the same way.
As a kid, I would always avoid when multiple instruments were playing that were not in unison. In an Asian household, where me and my sisters would often practice at the same time before a lesson, there would sometimes be multiple instruments playing their individual tune and notes, oftentimes clashing with each other. Sometimes it was a piano and a violin clashing, other times it was two violins or even sometimes a violin and clarinet. Each time I remember this occurring, I would get immensely overwhelmed and sometimes have to leave the room. It was just too much for me and oftentimes, I couldn't think and all I could focus on was one tune being distorted by another tune- clashing and clashing. I would have to leave the room and close my door.
Even one time, when I fell really sick in 4th grade, I remember the sheets felt so heavy against my skin, making me so uncomfortable. I felt the weight of my clothes and my sheets, seemingly crushing me. And, that entire restless night, I could only focus on how heavy everything felt on my skin and this feeling of overwhelmingness.
Oftentimes, I also wouldn't be able to sit in a room with multiple lights (without being uncomfortable) or in a room with a fan spinning wildly fast with the TV running. The fan gave me anxiety and the noise it produced with the TV made me super overwhelmed. However, I just thought this was my own problem and own issue. "I was just different", I thought. "There was something wrong with me". "Just avoid these situations". And, I continued living my life despite what I was feeling. I never thought much of it ultimately because I eventually grew out of it. And, eventually, I stopped thinking about it.
As an adult now and reflecting on the past recently, I thought about these occurrences, and actually realized that what I was experiencing as a kid was most likely sensory overload. And, I realized that many kids experience this, and I was not alone. After realizing this, it gave me a lot of perspective on the situation. It allows me to empathize also with other children with sensory overload, who also don't understand what is going on, expect for the immense anxiety and the inability to think. Although this is an occurrence that does not happen to the majority of the population, the feeling that I understand that these kids are feeling are valid and overwhelming.
After realizing what exactly sensory overload was and thinking about what I learned about autism. I realized that the sensory overload that all the teachers or educators said about autism in school I finally understood what they meant by the overwhelming sensory overload. Completely not connecting the dots of how I was feeling to the"fireworks" in thee autistic individual's brain occurring because of the overload of sensory information flooding their mind, I realized thats exactly what was happening to me- a 4th of July going on in my brain. But, instead of this firework and shocking experience "as described", for it it just felt like an overwhelming noise that repeated, a fan going too fast, or too many lights being on at one time followed by dread. And, I realize there is only so much you can describe to someone about an experience, and so much you actually have to experience in order to actually understand.
Afterward, it makes me realize the amount of growth that I have gone through that these debilitating things that happened to me as a kid have stopped and now I've changed. And, this growth, I hope has made me into a stronger person and something I was fortunately able to grow out of. and, for those of you who think there is something wrong, chances are you aren't alone in what you are feeling and putting a name onto what you have experienced, helps you rationalize and grow into a stronger person.