Sensory Overload- Learning to Balance Life with Autism


One of the biggest expenses our family has invested in over the years, is season passes to Six Flags.  As a child, I only went there a few times. My husband, however, found himself there much more often.  With him having a Halloween birthday, Fright Fest is a must this time of year!  Today was our first attempt at a daytime, fright fest adventure to six flags with an autistic child.  Even as quote “normal” adults, we get a sensory overload every now and again. As a little man whose main sensory issues are visual and hearing, a busy six flags is an interesting adventure to say the least!

sensory overload

Today, we came prepared.  Inside his bag, came with us his sensory brush, noise cancelling headphones, drinks and food he liked.  We planned to come here primarily for the train ride and endless pumpkins, his two favorite items in the world.

After a long van ride and nap, we arrived with a well rested group of kiddos.  We made our way to the train station, only to find we missed the train by just minutes. As we promised him a train ride, we stayed put and waited for the train to make it back around the park. After a long and restless wait, we finally were able to board the train.  His excitement was short-lived however. The train was noisy, and apparently they were having technical issues with the radio.

No longer is the train a spooky ride this time of year. However, the music normally played during such times, kept trying to come on through the speakers. Beside the spooky factor, it was quiet loud!  So we got him to put on his headphones, used his sensory brush, and the rest of the wait on the train went fine. The radio was finally fixed and away we went! Man, was this exciting for him! Most of the train ride, he kept his head phones on and had the biggest smile on his face! To top it off, this was his longest time with his headphones on.

This might not be very exciting to many, but for us this was an awesome milestone.  Him becoming comfortable with his resources will help makes things more “normal” for him. We want to make sure he feels no different from any of our other children.  So any little bit helps.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s got three goofy sisters, all with their own issues.  So, there really isn’t a “normal” person in our entire family, mommy and daddy included!
Being prepared made this a nice trip. We went into it knowing there wouldn’t be a bunch of rides and knowing we had to pace ourselves.  He loved the playground, diving down the tube slide every chance he got. Going through the hay maze was a blast for him too! He had quiet a fun trip, even in spite of the noise and crowds. There were a few times where he covered his ears, even with the headphones on, but it wasn’t too bad. Other than that, he had quiet an exiting adventure!

Being Prepared

Sensory overloads can happen anywhere. Knowing places that are more likely to occur at, helps lessen the impact.   Just as you wouldn’t leave the house with out diapers and wipes, you don’t leave the house without the right tools either.  Everyone has different techniques that work best for them.  It’s about finding what works for your child.

As of now, there is no cure for Autism. Just like many other disorders out there, it’s all about mind-set. It’s making the sensory overload less when all possible . Having patience, understanding, and  good humor. Laughter is truly the best medicine for all of life’s ailments. It’s all about finding happiness in every day. Happiness and Love.

Alicia Trautwein is an Autism advocate, writer, motivational speaker, and dedicated mom of four. Alicia’s desire to advocate for Autism comes from her own autism diagnosis and that of her three children, niece, and brother. Her life’s mission is to educate on autism acceptance and change the world for future generations of autistic individuals.

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  1. We use noise canceling head phones as well! They have been a huge help in day to day life. We can go to the grocery store a lot easier.

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