Autistic People Don’t “Get Used to” Sensory Triggers We Are Forced to Endure, We Disassociate From Them
This is going to be a hard truth for some, so brace yourselves:
Most autistic people do not “get used to” sensory triggers just because we are forcibly and repeatedly exposed to them; we disassociate from everything in a last and desperate attempt to stop the torturous input.
Read that again.
Now, slow and guided exposure that the autistic person has agreed upon is different. With people who are 100% sympathetic to and understanding of the validity of these sensory challenges, it is possible to work through or around them.
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The best way to improve communication with your autistic loved one is to understand how your autistic loved one’s mind works! Intentions, motivations, and personal expressions (facial expressions or lack thereof, body language, etc.), are often quite different in autistic people than they are in neurotypical people.
Experience a better understanding of your autistic loved one by reading books about life from an autistic perspective as well as stories that feature autistic characters. You’ll have so many “Ah ha!” moments and start seeing your autistic loved one in a different light (and you’ll have a better understanding of their behaviors, which you may have been misinterpreting up until now).
Books I recommend for a better understanding of your autistic loved one:
But, just exposing an autistic person to a painful sound, texture, smell, light, etc., because “the real world isn’t sensory friendly” is not doing anything to toughen the person up and prepare them to fit into a non-autistic society.
It teaches us to become numb. I disassociated most of my childhood, teenage years, and my twenties, and I wasn’t even aware of it.
Yes, autistic people can be deep in our own minds a lot due to passionate interests and sensory overwhelm, but being forced to endure what is horrific sensory input for us day after day, month after month, year after year, will cause us to just shut down completely, and then nothing is getting in anymore.
Not love, not joy, not friendship, not connection. Nothing.
This type of disassociation is NOT an inherent autistic trait, it is a trauma response.
There is a huge, night and day difference between disassociation, shoving down and stifling emotional responses, and masking and ACTUALLY getting used to something and no longer being as deeply affected by it.
In other words, just because someone can train themselves to walk over hot coals without screaming doesn’t mean they don’t still feel the pain.
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