Welcome to my (sensory) world

First day back at work, and I’m already finding it challenging.

It’s not the work itself. But I’d forgotten how difficult it is for me to be in an open-plan office. Even though everything is set up for me so it is as quiet and non-stimulating as possible, and I’m able to get away when I need to, it’s still not the ideal environment for me to be in. (The earplugs improve things, though! So that’s all good.)

I’m only just realising how much more difficult this kind of thing is for me compared with people who don’t have the same sensory issues. I’ve even come home this evening and prepared a whole PowerPoint presentation on the topic (but I can’t work out how to put it into this blog!).

But I have uploaded some clips which may give an idea about how difficult some of the sensory inputs can be to process.

Let’s start with something I didn’t realise was different for me: what I look at.

Here’s what a walk through a car park might look like for someone who is neurotypical:

And now the same walk from my perspective:

I look around far more – and therefore have far more information that I need to process – than someone without my condition.

The sense I find more noticeably different, however, is that of sound. And this is where we come full circle: asking me to concentrate on what someone is saying in an open-plan office is like asking someone without the same sensitivity to concentrate on the poem being read in the following video clip:

It’s possible, particularly if you’re familiar with the text. But it takes more concentration than you’d expect. And the video is only about a minute long; I can be in an environment with a similar – or worse – impact on me for 10 or 11 hours a day.

Still, there were no meltdowns today. No need to retreat more than I’d planned. So I’m counting it as a successful day.

I hope tomorrow goes as well.


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