ASMR, SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER AND AUTISM
Question how does the following make you feel?
Warning this video does contain some strong language
Do you get a tingly sensation?
Does it make you feel relaxed?
Do you even know what it’s called?
Well it’s called ASMR which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response
But what is ASMR?
Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is an experience characterised by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It has been compared with auditory-tactile synesthesia and may overlap with frisson.
ASMR signifies the subjective experience of “low-grade euphoria” characterized by “a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin”. It is most commonly triggered by specific auditory or visual stimuli, and less commonly by intentional attention control.
Autonomous – spontaneous, self-governing, with or without control
Sensory – pertaining to the senses or sensation
Meridian – signifying a peak, climax, or point of highest development
Response – referring to an experience triggered by something external or internal
ASMR is usually precipitated by stimuli referred to as ‘triggers’.
ASMR triggers, which are most commonly auditory and visual, may be encountered through the interpersonal interactions of daily life.
Additionally, ASMR is often triggered by exposure to specific audio and video.
Such media may be specially made with the specific purpose of triggering ASMR or originally created for other purposes and later discovered to be effective as a trigger of the experience.
Stimuli that can trigger ASMR, as reported by those who experience it, include the following:
Listening to a softly spoken or whispering voice
Listening to quiet, repetitive sounds resulting from someone engaging in a mundane task such as turning the pages of a book
Watching somebody attentively execute a mundane task such as preparing food
Loudly chewing, crunching, slurping or biting foods, drinks, or gum
Receiving personal attention
Initiating the stimulus through conscious manipulation without the need for external video or audio triggers
Listening to tapping, typically nails onto surfaces such as plastic, wood, metal, etc.
Hand movements, especially onto one’s face
For someone like myself who has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) I have several negative sensory triggers which cause me anxiety, discomfort, or in some cases to endure a meltdown.
But I also have positive sensory triggers which are activated by watching or performing ASMR activities.
For example, if a loud alarm goes off it can cause me to have to plug my ears with my fingers or put on my noise cancelling headphones because the noise is incredibly overwhelming and can cause my anxiety levels to rise quickly.
Whispers however, have the opposite effect and are both comforting and relaxing and what that does it to cause tingling sensations to begin in the back of my head and travel in waves down my neck and arms as if my nerves were statically charged.
So, by listening to this video of someone shaving soap with a knife it can be for me very relaxing experience
But what is SPD?
Sensory Processing Disorder
Well SPD (formerly called Sensory Integration Disorder) is a condition where the brain and nervous system have trouble processing or integrating stimulus making it difficult to interact with your daily environment.
SPD works by disrupting how the brain — the top of the central nervous system — takes in, organises, and uses the messages received through our body’s receptors.
The symptoms of SPD, like Autism, exist on a spectrum, so a sufferer might experience any of the above but in varying degrees.
We take in sensory information through our eyes, ears, muscles, joints, skin and inner ears, and we use those sensations – we integrate them, modulate them, analyse them and interpret them — for immediate and appropriate everyday functioning.
It is a challenging neurological condition associated with inefficient processing of sensory information, which I’ll be exploring and explaining more about in this blog post.
If you are an adult with SPD, then you may exhibit the following signs:
Feeling that a shade is pulled over the outside world
Experiencing muted sights, sounds, and touch
Frequent feelings of sensory overload
SPD can complicate everything from getting dressed to eating to grooming.
The following are some common triggers that can cause discomfort:
Tight clothes or coarse fabric
Loud noises such as fireworks or thunder
Bright lights like camera flashes, sunshine, or strobes
Strong odours including perfume or scented detergent
So, when a person experiences too much sensory stimulation, this in turn then causes their central nervous system to become overwhelmed and unable to process everything. It can be best described by the following quote.
It’s like a physiological ‘Traffic Jam’ in your central nervous system and the sensory overstimulation causes a physiological response and sometimes even a sensory meltdown.
When people with sensory processing dysfunction experience sensory overstimulation, they are unable to regulate the sensory inputs from their environment and their bodies perceive these inputs as threats.
Here then are three strategies on how to deal with a sensory overload.
STRATEGIES FOR HOW TO DEAL WITH SENSORY OVERLOAD
1) CREATING ROUTINES FOR STABILITY
Build upon routines and address changes within familiar routines or expectations before they happen.
2) IDENTIFY, DISCUSS, AND WORK ON POTENTIAL SENSORY TRIGGERS IN ADVANCE
Identify potential sensory triggers and discuss expectations for those situations as well as solutions that might be possible. For example, a noisy, crowded shopping mall could be a trigger – expectations could revolve around the time spent there, problem-solving could include negotiating stores differently or discussing an exit-plan.
3) CREATE A TOOLKIT
Prepare for a potentially difficult experience beforehand as much as possible.
Discussing an appropriate way to leave the situation/environment should it become too much
Problem-solve potential triggers
If you experience these or similar symptoms for SPD, my advice is to consult a doctor or mental-health professional so that you can be given a formal assessment.
Carry on the Conversation
What are your thoughts? Have you got any strategies in place in dealing with a sensory overload?
Would you listen to any of these ASMR video’s?
Let me know in the comments below.
If you like what you have seen on the site today, then show your support by liking the Autistic Nick Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/autisticnick9/
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.