6. Experiential Learning Exercise
Now that we have gotten a better understanding of sensory overload, let’s take a look at what it might be like to experience sensory overload. The following video, made by The National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom, is a virtual reality simulation from the perspective of a young boy experiencing sensory overload. The simulation allows you to look around 360 degrees, so you are able to see Alex’s whole environment. To do so, click and drag your cursor while the video plays. Notice how his perception of lights and sounds changes throughout the video. You can look/scroll up or down as well, notice what Alex does with his hands while experiencing the sensory overload.
This simulation recreates a situation of a child experiencing sensory struggles in a mall, however a child may experience many of the same challenges in a noisy schoolyard or classroom. Although initially comfortable with the environment, triggering stimuli can lead to sensory overload. Through this video, you will be able to gain a glimpse into what it would be like to be in this situation from an audio and visual standpoint, allowing you to compare sensory overload challenges in the current setting.
While watching the video, pay attention to the different stimuli Alex sees and hears. The video is best when using headphones. Try and set the volume at a comfortable level to start, but know that it will get louder as the simulation progresses. The video starts at the beginning of a case of sensory overload and will increase in intensity throughout the video.
Disclaimer: Volume will get loud and possibly painful – this is what many people with sensory overload experience. This video may contain experiences that are distressful and, may trigger sensory overload.
Video: Autism TMI Virtual Reality Experience – The National Autistic Society (UK)
Please keep in mind that this is not what all people with sensory overload experience. Everyone experiences sensory overload differently and at different levels. This is not a simulation for autism ASD either, only sensory processing challenges to help you better empathize with the complex challenges that people on the autism spectrum may experience.
In the next video we will use this simulation to help understand triggers of sensory overload, how to mitigate these triggers, and discuss how we can recognize sensory overload. Thank you for watching!