5 Must-Have Items for People on the Spectrum

As you might have read on this page before, fighting sensory is a daily battle for me. I am guessing for a lot of people on the spectrum. Here I present 5 items that make my life a lot more easier

1. Earmuffs

These earmuffs look horrible, but they are absolutely amazing! It’s great to use them to unwind at home. To stop being annoyed by the sound of the fridge, the dishwasher and all the humming machines in your home. Since they do not filter frequencies of human voice, you are still able to hear someone if they talk to you (although not easy) or watch tv!

2. Cooling Cap

When there’s another hot day, which is causing you to meltdown, this cap can help quite a bit. You can soak the cap in water. After soaking, it will do all the – cooling – work for you!

3. Computer Glasses

These computer glasses, officially meant to filter the blue light when working behind a computer, are a real help to me! They tune down the brightness of the world for me. I wear them a lot.

4. Sleeping Mask

Sleeping properly can be a real hassle nowadays, with all the unnatural light in our world. Most sleeping masks are uncomfortable and put pressure on your eyes. This one doesn’t. I sleep with it every night, and am grateful to have it.

5. Custom Made Ear Plugs

If you need to be out and about, these ‘guys’ are a real solution. They are not cheap, but they are definitely worth their price! A great alternative for earmuffs. ๐Ÿ™‚

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How Can Autism Affect Your Hearing?

Autism can have a profound effect on your ability to hear things. In hindsight, it was one of the first things I noticed, the inability to hear everything properly in crowded areas. I figured I had a hearing problem, but tests showed I could hear perfectly.

This ‘hearing problem’ emerged in my early twenties, but seemed to subside when I got older. It reemerged a couple of years ago. It can be really annoying, since I can not understand everything – simply because there is so much noise I am not able to filter properly. This also makes me speak loudly. Apparently I can be very loud from time to time; I am guessing as a result of not hearing my own voice in the way I should.

I found this video of BBC Sesh – explaining how autism affects your hearing – on the facebook page of Mysig – a Belgian autistic lifestyle blogger (thanks! @Mysig).

So, how can autism affect your hearing? As you can see in this video, there are so many sounds ‘coming in’ at the same time, it is very hard to hear words distinctively if you are also hearing tons of chatter, traffic, hissing coffee machines, lamps and are unable to filter them out. I have to ask regularly what people are saying to me, because of this.

How about you? Is autism affecting your hearing? In what way?

how can autism affect your hearing

Update: I Am Still Alive

So, I haven’t been blogging for a while, due to several reasons. First of all, the heat has been bothering me quite a bit. It worsens my sensory overload and really gets to me, especially when it is humid (which it is a lot in my country).

Secondly, I have been thinking a lot about ‘coming out’ as being on the spectrum, since I am a doctor. There are quite some doctors on the spectrum. But nobody is open about it, which I can understand. I like to be open about it, but I don’t want it to have negative repercussions. One colleague, who is open about her autism, is advising doctors not to be open about it. I guess she experienced first-hand the (negative?) effect of being open about it.

So, what have I been up to?

* Well, I have found one more ‘tool’ to fight the heat, thanks to instagram. After posting a blog about a cap which can cool you down, I was followed by a company selling products that cool you down. I checked them out, and was happy to see they sell a lot of different cooling vests! I bought one, tested it, and will review the vest as soon as I can. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cooling Vest


* I contacted a company which sells special toothbrushes which can be used in autism. I would like to test them. Haven’t heard anything from them yet… ๐Ÿ™


* I decided to buy a weighted blanket.

I have known of their existence for quite a while. Well, I knew of the handmade blankets you can buy online, to be honest. Since I have experienced the great advantages of deep pressure, I have been very interested in this product. But they are pretty expensive. Through instagram (yes, again :)!) I got to know the products of Somnos (they followed me). I checked out their site and videos, and I must say, their blankets look amazing. Since their product did not magically appear for free to review on my doorstep (bummer!), I decided to buy one. I really hope it will help with my sensory overload! I ordered it when I was heavily overloaded, and dying to find some relief. Amazon says I will receive my blanket tomorrow (and not today, as they promised grrrr). I. Can. Not. Wait.!!!!!


* I bought a – pretty – professional Canon camera for my blog. It has a trillion amazing functions, so it will take me forever to use it properly… ๐Ÿ™‚ It also is suited for vlogging, which I am considering to do in the future. Perhaps. Maybe. Not sure yet. Really not sure. Since you are putting your face out there. Mmmmm.

Lifehack: Dealing with Heat in Autism

I haven’t written anything in quite a while, which is partly due to the heat in my country. I live in a country where it – usually – doesn’t get really hot, but since May we have had many sunny, hot days. June was one of the driest months in the last 100 years!

Unfortunately, I am having quite some problems with heat. Heat is just another sensory stimulus my body finds hard to deal with. It is even worse, when it gets more humid, or when the air pressure changes. ๐Ÿ™

So, rising temperatures tend to get me more into sensory overload, which is not a pleasant state at all. My perception for temperatures has been off for quit a while now. I am still walking in a t-shirt, when others get cold and need sweaters and coats.

I used to be the total opposite. When I was young, I was always cold. I would only feel good in (sub)tropic temperatures. Now I just get annoyed by these high temperatures.

The bad thing is, you can’t do much about feeling or being too hot. Not if you still have to go to work or try to function in a normal way. Staying inside, get a regular shower is about all I can do.

Dealing with heat in autism: The solution

Mission Cap

I did manage to find one item which can help against the heat, if you have to go out and get overloaded by the sun on your head: a cap which you can dip in the water, so it can cool down your head with this water. I have been using this to fight the heat, especially while I was on a boat, and it works pretty well!

I have way less headache. I can stay outside longer. I can dip the hat in water when I feel my head is getting too hot. I am really happy with this cap, even if it messes up my hair! ๐Ÿ™‚



More info on how it works:

Mission also sells towels, but I haven’t tried them yet!

Want to buy one?

Do you have experience with cooling aids, or did you find another great way of dealing with heat in autism? Please let me know in the comments!

Note: I bought the cap myself!

Sensory Challenge: 4DX Cinema

Last year our cinema opened a 4DX theatre.

The idea is, all your senses can be entertained/triggered during a 4DX screening of a movie. Not only will you see and hear the movie, but your chair will move, there will be light/wind/smell/water effects to enhance the whole cinema experience.

As you may understand, I was not so thrilled… ๐Ÿ™‚

I go to the cinema a lot. I love, love, love, loooooooove movies and loooooooove cinema. I can go as much as I want, since I got a subscription to Pathรฉ (meaning, I can go to all the movies I want, as much as I want for 20 euro a month).

More and more films in Pathe cinema are in 3D. Although 3D can be a cool experience, especially in movies relying heavily on effects and not so much on story, it does feel weird on the eye and the brain to me.

And now we got 4DX. An absolute sensory challenge. For a long time I did not want to go, since I am managing my sensory input all day long…. But my significant other – J – loved it and really wanted to go together. So when I was feeling ok enough, I decided to give it a try.

We went to Rampage: Big meets Bigger. A great – superficial – movie, which is suitable for tons of special effects. ๐Ÿ™‚ We got into our huge 4DX seats, which indeed moved throughout the movieย continuously. To my surprise, all the effects were pretty cool. Fortunately I could switch off the water effect (no thanks – no unexpected water in my face – please!). The only thing really bothering me, were the flashing lights. They are just awful. Thank god, they weren’t used a lot.

So, I ‘survived’ the movie and had a good time! But after the movie, I did notice my body was rattled, and I got very annoyed about everything in my sight, feeling an urgent need to organize and clean everything up. By now, I know this is just a way to get control in a state of sensory overload, which I had put myself in.

So, it probably was too much for me, but I am happy I tried. I will not be in the 4DX cinema on a weekly basis, but I could go there. Once in a blue moon. ๐Ÿ™‚

Lifehack: Moving to a Low Sensory Input Place

Making changes in my new home. With ear protection to prevent sensory overload ๐Ÿ™‚

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been online much lately. I have been very busy preparing to move. I have bought my first house (jay!), in the area I come from originally. Quit a big decision, since I have been living in the capital of our country (Amsterdam) for half my life now. But now, knowing what helps and what bothers me, I’ve come to realize I need to be in a place which doesn’t get on my nerves as much, as a the big city I am living in.

A big city is always ‘giving’ sensory input. Here, in Amsterdam there is a never a moment of peace. There are cars, people, lights and noises everywhere, all the time, which can be appealing, if you are able to filter out most of this input. But I can’t. So I never feel as happy and comfortable as I can be.

I have felt this (uncomfortable) for many many years, but never knew why. I just guessed I didn’t really belong in a big city, for unknown reasons.

It feels good to get more control over how I feel, by managing my sensory input. I have spent quit some time in my home area, and my sensory overload, and autism symptoms are getting less and less, which is great. Also is it really nice to spend more time with my family ๐Ÿ™‚

The move is quit stressful though, since I don’t like change much. But I am doing it at the lowest pace possible, to keep my stress levels as low as possible.

At the end of this month, I will be officially moved out. Looking forward to that moment, hopefully accompanied with a lot of piece (of mind).

Getting Proper Sleep: Sleep Mask

Since I am having quite some sensory issues, which become worse when I don’t sleep properly, it is very important to get a good night of sleep.

Sleeping can be quite a challenge, especially when living in a big city (I live in the capital of my country), which never really sleeps. Although I do no live in the busiest part of the city (thank god!), I do live in a part of our country where there is a lot of light pollution. It never gets really dark here, which is a real pity… and, a sensory input I would rather get rid of.

So I started looking for a good, portable solution. A sleep mask seemed to be the solution, but most sleep masks are just horrible: they put pressure on your eyes and replace your original problem (light) with a new one (pressure).

After doing some online research, I found a sleep mask that had a lot of positive reviews, the sleep mask of Tempur. I decided to buy one, desperate for some ‘darkness’ in my life. ๐Ÿ™‚

I must say, it worked out well. I absolutely love this sleep mask. It is soft, really blocks out light, and does notย put any pressure on my eyes. I sleep with it every night now, without pulling it off while I am sleeping.

I can also recommend using it when you need some time to calm the senses after being sensory overloaded (just lie down on your bed with the mask on) or when having a migraine (ditto)!

Want one of your own?

Get it @ Amazon!

Or @ Bol.com

Note: I bought this item myself.

What is Autism (to me)?

Although I have suspected autism in some patients I have seen in my career, I never really knew what it entailed to have autism. I have learnt the symptoms by heart, during my study, but did not understand what caused patients to behave, the way they did.

I had never heard of the debilitating sensory issues that go hand in hand with autism. These sensory issues are my true nemesis. During the most part of my life, they were minor, and I didn’t even notice them.

All changed when I became really stressed out and my sensory sensitivities became major sensory issues. It was pretty confusing to go from a state of ‘being and feeling pretty normal’ to ‘not being able to leave the house’ because sounds would literally hurt on the inside, when I heard them.

Lights became very bright, especially those on cars, or those awful LED lights and fluorescent tubes, which you can find everywhere nowadays. Touch became almost unbearable. Interaction with other humans beings was totally exhausting. Grocery stores became my biggest enemies. Sleep became more and more difficult due to the ongoing ย sensory overload, which was sending my body into a continuous state of alarm, and made my cortisol (stress hormone) levels peak continuously.

Fortunately I have found my way out of this hellish sate of being, but I am still sensitive, especially on the sensory ‘side’.

To get an idea what sensory overload is, please check this movie:

To me, autism is mostly dealing with sensory issues and sensory overload. Of course there is more to it. But to me, this really is my core problem.

How about you?

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