Yellow working protective headphones, it is isolated on white

Finding A Sensory Sanctuary

The place to be.

The world is bright, loud and full of stimulation.  I am wired differently, my senses are turned up a few extra notches.  I often feel I have to cope with the world more than I’m part of it.  To succeed I have to manage the amount of sensory stuff going on around me or at least block some of it out.

I wear noise cancelling headphones at work to block out the background office noise.  I have earplugs for concerts and ear plugs for sleeping.  I black out my bedroom with a light proof blind.  I even have to cover the little lights on the wifi box next to my bed.  I do this now, at thirty-nine for the same reasons I put my fingers in my ears and tightly closed my eyes when I was little – I do it so that I can just be.

These moments when I am not bombarded with sound, smell and light – in a soft and comfortable place where I feel safe, is where my breathing settles and I can relax enough to face the day.  For me this time is often at the end of the day and helps me get to sleep.  Sometimes if I’m not working I can take some time during the day if I really need it.

We all need these times, these sanctuaries in which we can be.  For those of us that are wired differently, these times and places are essential if we are to succeed in life.  For many people they may seem extravagant, indulgent even.  For those that truly know us they understand they are not.

I need to know this place exists, that there are things I can do to turn the world down a bit.  Learning what things work for you and how you can find some sensory space as you go into the world will help you cope and manage the stressors of life.

I wish I hadn’t had to wait until I was an adult to learn to find this place, or felt I deserved such a place.

Be assertive about your sensory needs and find your place of sanctuary.  For me it’s my bedroom.  An environment I can control, a place where I can lay down, block out the light.  Where there are no strong smells and it’s never too hot or too cold.  Most importantly, because I’m very sensitive to noise it’s in a quiet part of the house.  What’s your sanctuary like?   Perhaps share with us in the comments section what type of sanctuary works best for you or for those on the spectrum with whom you live.

Paul C Siebenthal is a 38 year-old Aspie who was diagnosed at 25.  Started blogging and tweeting last year as Aspienaut, working for NASA (New Autism Spectrum Awareness). He is passionate about creativity and helping young people on the spectrum to see just how amazing they are and how great it can be to be Wired Differently.