Fall is an exciting time of year. The breeze picks up, a chill is in the air, and the scent of cinnamon and pumpkin spice is all around. There is an excitement that accompanies this change of season. So, it is easy to overlook that some people find this time of year overwhelming, especially those with a sensory impairment, like vision loss.
What Makes Fall Overwhelming to the Senses?
From fall festivals to trick-or-treating and Halloween fun, what many find to be fun can cause a sensory overload for some people, and children are no exception.
Corn mazes, apple picking, and hayrides are at the top of many Fall activity lists. Picture what a crowded Fall Festival might feel and sound like; imagine the input that can flood one’s senses.
Think about putting on a Halloween costume and walking up to unfamiliar houses. Remember the homes that filled the dark sky with flashing lights, eerie sounds, frightful screams, and the startling decor. Now, take away your vision, even partially. How do you think you would react to the unusual stimulation?
The sense of smell, touch, sound, and sight are powerful in assessing the world around us. If one of those senses is weaker than the others or nonexistent, a person then relies heavily on their other senses. If those senses become flooded with input, it can be hard for a person to process their environment.
The Difference Between Overstimulation and a Sensory Disorder
Many people, with or without sight, can become overstimulated when there is a high level of input. Overstimulation happens when there is a lot of sensory input, like at a haunted house. When the stimuli are no longer present, a person can regulate themselves close to their typical baseline.
When a person has a Sensory Processing Disorder , the added stimuli can trigger a fight, flight, or fright response. However, when the stimuli are no longer present, the person is unable to regulate themselves back to baseline; this is known as sensory overload.