From an epilepsy site forum: 2006-2007
Epilepsy and Sensory Overload – Adults
I have temporal lobe epilepsy with simple partial seizures. I also struggle with something I call sensory overload. I know that is a term for autism, but it is the best way to describe what is happening to me. I have difficulty when there is too much stimulation in the room. I become very agitated if, for example, there is music playing while the TV is on and people are talking. Add too many people to the stimulation and I become very stressed. If I cannot turn off the music and TV, I must leave the room. This agitation and stress is especially strong when I am around children because they tend to create a lot of stimulation with loud voices, banging and thumping from their physical activity, and they lack an understanding for personal space and often run/bump into me. I know too much noise can annoy anyone, but from what I have observed my agitation is much stronger than others in the same situation.
Is the sensory overload problem just another one of my issues or could there be some correlation between that and my epilepsy?
I don’t know if there is a correlation but people can have Sensory Integration issues. This is not autism although I have read before it could be part of the spectrum. A person can be treated for sensory issues through an occupational therapist with specific training in this area. I am only familiar with therapists who work with children but there must be some out there who would work with adults who were never treated for this as a child. It is worth looking into. There also are books out there that specifically discuss sensory integration issues.
I think i get something similar. I’m in the process of getting diagnosed with TLE (temporal lobe epilepsy), simple and complex partials. If there is too much to look at, I freak out. Like in shopping centers, all the colors, vastness, noises etc cause me problems. I just wrote in my blog about freaking out while shopping yesterday! I just feel as though I can’t process it all, and its just all too much.
If I am in a simple partial (epileptic seizure) I have to be in complete silence. Even if the TV is on it drives me nuts and I can’t look at anything.
I’m in the beginning stages of diagnosis, but I shall bring this up with my Neuro on my next appointment.
I am being examined for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and have also wondered about the Epilepsy and Sensory stuff connection.
I know EXACTLY what you are talking about!!! I call it “Tactile Defensiveness”.
When you said, “….my agitation is much stronger than others in the same situation,” bells went off in my head like “DING DING DING!! THIS IS TOTALLY ME!!”I knew instantly what you are talking about. If my 2 year old rams into my leg (which is like you say entirely normal for his age) I can actually get almost combative. There’s nothing rational about it, I cannot “think” my way out of this reaction. For me it seems to be hard-wired and almost reflexive, the way it would be if a doctor taps your knee with a rubber hammer.
Other “sensory overload” struggles I have:
*the waistband of my clothes often feels too tight, sometimes the socks around my ankles will feel too tight/clingy, sometimes the cuffs/wristband of my jackets will also feel too tight. I simply have to get rid of the offending article of clothes
*I have photosensitivity to many bright lights including sunshine. To compensate, I purchased a nice pair of shades, which happens to be in vogue
*certain cloth has always been aversive to me, in particular polyesther weaves, it was so coarse it felt almost like it scratched my skin. to this day I cannot use bed linen that is not 100% cotton and has a 400 thread count or higher b/c it feels too scratchy on my skin
*places with a lot of lights, sounds, crowds of people, I get panic stricken and overwhelmed, like you said SENSORY OVERLOAD
* cannot wear terry cloth socks b/c it feels to prickly and couldn’t stand the feeling of some face cloths taking a bath as a child
*I am overly sensitive to very hot or very cold temperatures, particularly bath water/shower water
*my shoelaces have to be laced up with the “exact same” tightness on both shoes or I go insane, literally I cannot stand it and have to fix it! LOL
*if I am in a bright store like WalMart sometimes the lights make me well…very on edge almost hair-trigger irritable
*my ears actually hurt when a fire truck puts it’s siren on to the point that when I was a child I would cover them up. As an adult I don’t want to look weird doing that, so I learned to just white knuckle through it with my fist and jaws clenched
*Smells are so strong in my nose that sometimes the scent is so aversive (like dog poo or skunk) that I gag and have to leave a situation. On the other hand pleasant smells are so strong it makes me feel like I’m in heaven if I like it (baking cookies etc) I speculate that I smell more keenly than everyone else
*Taste is the same way but thank God I never had texture issues with food like my sister does.
*If I get something sticky on my hands I have to wash it immediately, I just hate that feeling: maple syrup, jelly/jam
I could go on and on but the bottom line for me, being 36 years old, is that I had to learn to compensate for my heightened sensory issues by either avoiding siutations or de-sensitizing myself. This wasn’t a “formal” process it just happenened out of necessity and I consciously told myself to “sit with the discomfort” I just instinctively knew I had to do it.
I have been told I self monitor a lot. I used to think this was stupid and ‘as if’, but I can now catch myself in the act. I suppose having a condition like us makes you super sensitive to every bodily sensation that we don’t assume to be normal. In fact, it seems I have decided every bodily sensation is abnormal!
I know there are certain things that my poor little brain doesn’t cope to well with like the whole lights thing, shopping centres, loud noises, heat, being super tired etc … although I think half the time I am so strung out about everything – anything will set me off or freak me out.
I find if its over-cast it sends me in to a tail spin. haha. Weird, hey? I love rainy days, but they make me feel awful. I think I need and respond well to normal natural light / sun shine. i seem to get worse when things get darker. Weird. Hmmm.
OMG! Could the “autism” “brain” “behavior” industry be any more chaotic, incoherent, or ridiculous?
Honestly! Do any of the “experts” ever talk to each other; compare notes, cases, or FACTS? Can they even recognize the vast duplication of diagnosis going on in “parallel universes” of research?
NEUROTYPICALS are bat-crap-crazy!