Thursday, September 16, 2021

Common Signs of Sensory Overload You Should Know About

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How do you know if you or your child are experiencing sensory overwhelm? Well, here are some common signs of sensory overload to watch for.

It's one thing to know what sensory overload is

But it's a whole other ball game to know how to help, how to identify sensory triggers, and how to recognize the signs of overload. It's that last thing that we're going to focus on here though: the signs.

It's important to remember that an individual can have a wide variety of responses to incoming sensory information. Sometimes they process the information just fine. Sometimes they might have a mild reaction to that incoming sensory input. And other times, it leads to major sensory overload and/or even big, explosive meltdowns.

However, most of those big meltdowns can often be avoided if you know what to look for. 

You just need to be familiar with the signs of sensory overload and your child's sensory triggers. 

And once you know what signs to look for, you'll feel that much more confident helping and supporting your child. You'll also hopefully be able to recognize the signs of sensory overload before it leads to a full blown meltdown. Really, the goal here is to take a proactive approach instead of a reactive one.

Doing so can hopefully help you and your child avoid any major sensory processing reactions before they arise.

So let's dig in and take a closer look at some of the common signs that you might see when your child is experiencing sensory overload.

Signs of sensory overload in autism and sensory processing disorder

An individual can have a wide variety of responses to incoming sensory information

Signs of Sensory Overload

Please keep in mind that this list isn't exhaustive by any means. You may notice other sensory overload signs that aren't included in this list and that's okay. These are just some of the more common signs to watch out for.

  • Covering eyes
  • Covering ears
  • Anxiety, stress, and/or an inability to relax
  • Fear or panic
  • Physical discomfort
  • Drowsiness and/or fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Reduced eye contact
  • Muscle tension
  • Changes in muscle tone
  • Tremors
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Irritability
  • Loss of balance and/or coordination
  • Shutting down
  • Stomachache, nausea, and/or vomit
  • Crying
  • Screaming, yelling, and/or angry outbursts
  • Hiding
  • Skin changes such as going pale or having flushed, sweaty, and/or clammy skin
  • Restlessness and/or fidgeting
  • Rapid breathing
  • High levels of excitement and/or hyperactivity
  • Difficulty focusing and concentrating
  • Unable to finish tasks
  • Refusing to participate in an activity
  • Elopement (aka running away and/or a desire to escape without considering their own safety)
  • Avoiding particular situations or places
  • Glazed over eyes
  • Distracted or disoriented
  • Increase in chewing or mouthing objects
  • Doesn't pay attention to surroundings
  • Doesn't want to be touched
  • Increase in sensitivity, usually to clothing or certain textures
  • Social and emotional withdrawal

Your child may experience one, two, or even a small handful of these signs of sensory overload so be on the lookout for them!

Examples of common signs of sensory overload

A list of common signs of sensory overload

Common signs of sensory overload that you should learn to recognize