It was only after we started treating C for sensory processing disorder that I realized I have always had it, too. There have always been little things that really bother me (i.e. unexpected noises, a bug flying past my ear, multiple electronic devices on at the same time). I witness C’s sensory meltdowns on a regular basis and now I recognize when he’s reaching his limits; but I never knew that I have sensory meltdowns as an adult. These adult sensory meltdowns look a little different than my toddler’s meltdowns, but they are sensory-related nonetheless.

Adult Sensory Meltdowns #sensoryprocessing #spd

A few weeks ago, I was making a blend for a tube feeding in C’s Blendtec*, Baby Jo was crying, C was screaming and Hubster – just to be silly – started fake crying loudly in my ear. I felt my body get completely overwhelmed by the noise. The stress rose up inside of me, my shoulders clenched, and I just couldn’t take any more noise. I covered my ears and started screaming for everyone to stop. Immediately, I was confused by my strong reaction to the noise that is such a normal occurrence in our household. When the stress subsided, I knew right away that I was experiencing what C goes through on a regular basis.

How scary that must be for a child. The complete overwhelm. The feeling of shutting down. The desperate need to escape.

Since that time, I have recognized a few other near-meltdowns in myself. That’s when I know I need to step away and breathe. It’s not always possible to get away, and sometimes I yell. It’s something I am working on. Before having two loud toddlers and a tremendous amount of daily stress, I don’t think that I ever experienced sensory meltdowns as an adult. We’re never finished learning about ourselves!

Do you experience sensory meltdowns? How do you handle them?

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8 thoughts on “Adult Sensory Meltdowns

  1. I am sending you so much love, Kristin. I feel like I am much more sensitive to noise since my PPD and PPA. I found myself getting triggered by too much noise. If both girls and my husband are all trying to talk, forget it. I cannot listen to anyone. I have to make them all stop and listen to each person one at a time.

  2. This happens to me, and loud noises are frequently the trigger. But also, rapid touching like tickling makes me feel pretty panicky, as well as being touched on my face. My reaction is typically to curl up in a ball and whine, “Please stop!” With tickling and touching, it’s pretty easy to explain to the toucher that they shouldn’t do that, but it can be harder to control loud noises.

  3. I have ASPD. Noises, touch, textures…even showering and brushing my teeth are painful when I’ve had a bad day. My husband of 13 yrs is finally starting to “get it” and not take my refusing to be touched personally. I used to cope by hair pulling. Now when I feel sensory overload beginning I make it a priority to remove myself if at all possible. There are many days when my nerves are raw by the time I crawl into bed. It happens far too often and
    seems to be getting worse with age.

  4. Only since I started dealing with my autistic son’s sensory issues have issues realized my own. It was always manageable as a kid/teenager but now it can be unbearable. I can’t handle soft, repetitive touches, it actually hurts but I love getting deep tissue massages. Repetitive noises drive me crazy but I need white noise to sleep. Any kind of change in my environment is too much some days but other needs I feel the need to change everything. Too much clutter makes me feel overwhelmed. Certain fabrics make my face and ears hurt, especially wet wool. The only way I can really deal with the overwhelming sensory input is to go into a dark room with white noise on loud. Block out everything for at least 30 mins.

    1. I completely agree, Tegan! Strange how it was manageable as a child/teen, but now it’s so difficult, isn’t it?! It can be frustrating. I also need white noise to sleep. Silence feels deafening. That’s a great way to cope – being able to go someplace dark and block it all out for a while. Sending you big hugs!

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