• Cory Morrison

Autism: Sensory issues quiz

Updated: Sep 11

I answer my own sensory issues quiz questions. What have my sensory problems been like as an autistic person? What were major overstimulation triggers for me during the years? What did I not notice as much? What did I do when I was understimulated? You can also feel free to answer these questions about yourself.


Hypersensitivities

1. Are you sensitive to lights? For the most part, lights haven't triggered me. I might get a headache if I look at one for too long. Also, strobe lights would have made my vertigo problem from the early 2000s worse, but other than these, I've never had an issue with lights.

(Photo credit: Cory Morrison)

2. Have you been afraid of smells? When I was younger, many smells made me feel scared or even sick. Refer to the Pizza Hut example in my restaurant article. However, I only have this problem when food mixes with plastic and when typically hot foods are cold.


3. Are you a spicy food person? I've never been afraid of eating spicy foods. However, I rarely go out of my way to them. For example, I had Popeyes tenders for lunch today but ordered them mild instead of spicy. I do regularly eat spicy meat, wings and pasta for dinner, though.


4. Do you have an unusual profile of preferred foods? I always have to some extent, but it was far more pronounced when I was younger than it is now. For example, I don't eat foods such as steak, sushi or chips. I'm more of a white meat, fruits, vegetables and sweets type of person. If anything, I've become somewhat more vegetarian in recent years but have never entirely ditched meat.


5. Have sounds bothered you? I don't recall having such issues with sounds one would hear nearly every day, such as table tapping, wind or music. I was mildly sensitive to the vacuum cleaner when I was little, but I got over it, even though the noise still annoys me. My main fears were alarms and buzzers (Excluding school bells). I couldn't stand the fire alarm and, to a lesser extent, my parents' alarm clock.


On the other hand, I recall two decades ago, when I would watch my brother play soccer in a dome, my mother thought I was afraid of the buzzer to end a period. However, I actually found that noise fascinating.


6. How did you manage noisy environments, especially classrooms? There were definitely some years where I handled this better than others. In some years, I actually enjoyed animated, interactive environments. There were others, however, where I often needed a quiet place to work. For example, in elementary school, my educational assistants would often take me to the library to do my work. I think when I had a lot of friends in the class, it was easier to "join in" with them. When I didn't have many people to talk to, I would get annoyed easier.


There were also concerns with auditory processing in my primary school years. For this reason, I participated in a program named Fast ForWord so professionals and parents could learn my specific needs in these areas.


7. Does in-person yelling make situations worse for you compared to online? This trait I've always found interesting. If I get in a run-in with someone online, I don't cry because it's only words on a screen. However, the emotional impact and noise from someone yelling and getting angry at me can make tears stream down my eyes. My brain does not handle noisy anger directed at me well.


8. How do you handle touch? Surprisingly, I haven't had notable extreme problems in this area. I was super afraid of dogs for almost two decades and needles in elementary school, but many people don't like needles (I still took my COVID vaccines, don't worry!). Perhaps when I'm more tired and irritable, touches as simple as a tap on a shoulder may disturb me. For example, if I was close to napping in the car and my parents were at a drive-thru, my mother tapping me to ask me what I want would annoy me, even if I wanted food.


I'll also admit, while I'm not the biggest hugger, I will go out of my way to hug family and friends, especially if there are special occasions such as Christmas or the last day of school.


9. Have past injuries made you more afraid of certain touches? When I was eight on Canada Day, I burnt my hand by touching a sparkler's wrong side. In addition, in eighth-grade science, I remember building some structure in the shop room, and I burnt my hand with a hot glue gun. I haven't associated myself with sparklers or hot glue guns since.

(Photo credit: 808isgreat on Can Stock Photo)

10. Are you cautious of cooking because you are afraid of burning yourself? I think I have a good enough handle on the stove and toaster that it's not something I worry about too much. When it comes to my cooking obstacles, it's more about remembering the steps and organizing materials than the actual cooking process, that is hard for me. With barbecuing, however, it is a little bit of a different story. The fire is right there.


Hypo-sensitivities


1. Did self-stimulatory behaviours help you with hypo-sensitivities? They would help so much; I engaged in them too often as a young child. I would grind my teeth, hum, repeatedly do things with toys over and over again, chew my shirt sleeves and jump up and down. According to Integrated Treatment Services, autistic people do these routines to activate the nervous system and get outside sensory stimulation.



My toddler self plays with toys (Photo credit: Nancy Fincher-Morrison).


2. Do you ever "go after" sounds? I think I have a lot in the past, but it's not something I've given much thought. Certainly, if I'm bored and want to support my nervous system, being around a crowd can help do so.


3. Have you ever had hypotaste or hyposmell problems? There were phases when I was little where I would lick and smell random objects, especially if I enjoyed using a toy such as a Sesame Street character. I also loved to eat PlayDoh because of the salt and colour mixed. I, unfortunately, once got sick from eating PlayDoh when I was four or five, though.


4. Did you have hypotacility issues? In general, when my parents or other adults reminded me that something wasn't safe, I would pick up on it so I would know to avoid future pain. For example, I remember around five, I would habitually close the patio door on my finger, but as soon as I badly slammed my finger, I never did so again.


5. Did you have vestibular hyposensitivity challenges? Not really. In fact, it's been quite the opposite since my vertigo issue from the early 2000s. I'm sensitive to dizziness.


6. Are you undersensitive to temperature? Cold winds annoy me, and excessive humidity can be a handful, but I'm rather neutral in this area. I've been in 100°F heat and below 0°F weather without letting it grossly influence my mood and physical state.


7. Did you have personal space issues? There were times where I would stand too close to people without being aware of how socially unacceptable it is. A typical person might have seen it as rude, while I wouldn't even give it much thought. It wasn't that I didn't care; I was too focused on stimulating my nervous system to understand how my actions may have bothered other people.


8. Were you the type of person to take physical risks? For the most part, no. However, when I was in preschool, I vaguely recall that I would sometimes climb too high on the climber without knowing why it would be dangerous for someone as small as me. I was occasionally anxious around ice, but even so, I would sometimes risk falling on it when walking outside just because I was understimulated.

(Photo credit: Mayboro on Can Stock Photo)

9. Were you clumsy and uncoordinated? Very much so, even today. See Autism: Motor coordination quiz.



10. Are you afraid of spiders? Surprisingly, no. If there is a hyposensitivity issue I have, this might be it.


You may also like: Autism: Social and communication quiz

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