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It seems like an absolute contradiction that a person would seek out sensory input while constantly trying to avoid sensory overload. But I am such a contradiction. In my dream house, I will have persian rugs all over the wooden floors, so that I can roll myself up in them like a pita, and then move them to a corner so I can slide across the floors in my socks. I also plan on keeping several whole sheepskins scattered across my house so that I can snuggle into them. The windows will be mostly stained glass so that I can gain visual pleasure from the colourful patterns playing across my eyes when the sun hits them just right.

But I am also highly sensitive to being overstimulated by unpleasant sensations, and actively work to strike a balance in my life so that I can avoid sensory overload while gaining pleasure from sensations I actually like. That’s where ear buds (I prefer skullcandy, though lately I’ve resorted to cheaper brands due to poorness) come in, that’s where patches of silk and fur tucked away in my pocket come in, where my scarves and gloves come in. They’re not just a fashion statement, they’re meant simultaneously to stimulate my senses positively, while guarding me from sensations I’ll be bothered by.

Sometimes, I’ll even take it to the extreme, and during the Farmer’s markets, I’ll buy a small bunch of fragrant flowers or herbs, like lavender, lemongrass, lilac, gardenia, sage, or a rose (Which makes me look a bit like a female Pierre Trudeau, me likey) and pin them to my front, fold them into my breast pocket, or carry them around and put my nose to them whenever I sense an unpleasant smell coming my way. The Victorians had the right idea, even though their primary motive was to cover up the major stench of stale body odour.

It makes sense to me why sensory avoidance often goes together with sensory seeking. We all like to experience things we enjoy, and generally steer clear of that which hurts us or makes us uncomfortable. But for some reason, a lot of people can’t understand that, and think that you must either be a sensory seeker or a sensory avoider. Hardly. Some things are just more overwhelming while others are more pleasant. I think that the life of every autistic could be improved if people would understand this, and not become offended when we avoid certain sensations, or cock an eyebrow at us spending 15 minutes stroking a carpet or smelling a flower.

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