You’ll get used to it…

Autism and expectations

‘You’ll get used to it.” They said, and I waited. I waited for that Cat on a Hot Tin Roof click in my head that would mean it had settled into background noise.

But it never came.

Not for the seams on my socks, or the band of my bra, or the brace for my teeth or the glasses on my nose. Not for the elastic on my arms, or the lump in my sole. Not for the small pains or the big ones.

“You’ll desensitise with time.” They said.

So I gave it time.

More and more ticks and tocks, I poured them all into the deepening, widening hole of time. I gave it a year, then ten, then twenty, then thirty, and more. I gave it patience and space. I used distraction and all my tricks.

But still it stayed.

“There,” they said, “I told you all it…

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Use of heart rate monitors by endurance athletes: Lessons from Triathletes


Heart rate monitor from MIO - Click image to check it out Heart rate monitor from MIO – Click image to check it out

Monitoring our heart’s physiological response to changes in exercise intensity during physical activity – that’s a fancy way of saying your heart rate going up & down – can be used as an effective tool in hitting athletic performance targets.

Now some triathletes/cyclists/runners might be reading this & thinking ‘I have seen all this before, just another gimmick’; so before I start stressing the real science behind it, I want to take this heart rate monitor story from Mark Allen, only the second six-time Ironman Triathon World Champion:

I came from a swimming background, which in the 70’s and 80’s when I competed was a sport that lived by the “No Pain, No Gain” motto. My coach would give us workouts that were designed to push us to our limit every single day. I would go…

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I Discovered the Need for Sensory Overload Accommodations Recently


In the past, I didn’t get much accommodations for sensory overload. I didn’t know that I needed it.

It was difficult drawing a connection between noise levels and a loss of productivity especially when I was used to the noise without enough recovery time. I tend to think that there’s other causes. Noise sources during college include vehicle cabins and traffic while commuting, wind, cafeterias, hallways, computers, ring tones, other equipment, air vents, and classrooms.

I didn’t think of hearing protection because no one told me that I needed it. I thought that hearing protection was needed only if the noise cause pain or risks hearing loss. If I  had sensitivities to noise, I

Interestingly, I don’t remember seeing people in special ed programs wearing hearing protection regularly in cafeterias. What I did notice was that most or all of the people in a group of autistic employees wore them for desk jobs. Other than people talking, the work place didn’t sound very noisy. I didn’t pay attention to the noise sources because I didn’t know much about my sensory needs yet.

If there were symptoms of sensory overload, they were likely overlooked. For example, if I acted like I’m daydreaming, it’s unlikely that very quiet work places are suggested. I might ask my classmates to clarify missed spoken instructions or team members might end up doing too much of my work.

I started experimenting with hearing protection after doing my own research and monitoring my symptoms. I seem to need it. So far, the main problem is sore ears and face. I often loosened or removed the ear plugs to give them a rest.

I’m considering custom fitted ear plugs since I wear hearing protection all day. The’re reusable and even recommended for sleeping! Some dB blockers have a mean dB reduction of around 34 dB at 125 Hz. Some of them are discreet, have audio jack, have Bluetooth, and are easier to remove. They’re more expensive than reusable ones you get at hardware stores but I don’t mind it if they enable us to work.

Even with hearing protection, I might still need a quieter work space. They only reduce the volume.

For safety, it’s important to have enough hearing. It’s also important not to be exposed to too much noise because it can decrease the ability to concentrate.

I’m now considering sensory overload accommodations in the future. For people with autism, I recommend not ignoring their symptoms even it they seem subtle.


Examples of Sound Sources that may Increase Sensory Overload

To prevent sensory overload, its triggers should be removed.


Here are some examples of noise sources that can cause sensory overload. Some of them may be easier to overlook than others or masked by white noise.

  • Air conditioners
  • Cafeterias
  • Clothing dryers
  • Computers
  • Concerts
  • Construction
  • Conversations
  • Crowds
  • Dishwashers
  • Echoes
  • Fans
  • Fluorescent lamps
  • Fume hoods
  • Furnaces
  • Gas tanks
  • Hair dryers
  • Lawnmowers
  • Leaf blowers
  • Microwave ovens
  • Photocopiers
  • Power tools
  • Radios
  • Refrigerators
  • Restaurants
  • Ring tones
  • Shops
  • Traffic
  • Transformers
  • TV’s
  • Vehicle cabins
  • Vents
  • Washing machines
  • Water heaters
  • Water sources
  • Wind

You can experiment with hearing protection near those sources. Look for improvements. Make sure that it’s safe to wear hearing protection.

Peculiarities and Plants – Romaine Lettuce


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Romaine Lettuce is a favorite of mine in salads. I’ve also read it makes an Incredible and Delicious Smoothie.

The best and most amazing thing about lettuce, besides eating the tender green leaves, is the amazing fact that if the bottom of the stump is saved and placed in water, regeneration and new growth will occur. Above is a photograph of three romaine ‘stumps’ in various levels of regrowth. All I did to achieve this miracle was place each piece in a half inch of water, check the water level daily, and marvel as the stump began to grow anew.

I am growing the romaine in a basement window well, and that explains the VERY dirty window in the photo as it is below ground level. The setting for the lettuce doesn’t look nice, but it creates the perfect environment for regrowing leafy greens…cool and bright all day. Experiment yourself…

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Can Sensory Overload Affect Traffic Safety?

When I get sensory overload, I feel the need to be more cautious in traffic.

In Downtown Vancouver, I had a close call last year. Shortly after work, I was making a left turn from Beatty St onto a bike lane on Smithe St and a car going straight had to swerve and I braked when I noticed it at the last moment. Thankfully, the light just turned green at that time since slower traffic meant there was more time to react.left turn.png

It’s possible that the road markings were confusing at that time. I was in the green left turn lane turning into a bike lane on the left side of the road. It was my first time left turning in that intersection. Beatty St now has a protected bike lane.

I most likely had sensory overload or a partial shutdown at that time. I only started wearing hearing protection for suspected triggers this year.

It not only affects cycling but also driving and crossing streets when there’s sensory overload.

I recommend taking quieter streets if possible, being extra cautious when you think you have sensory overload, avoiding left turns on busy streets if possible, using bike lanes instead of busy traffic, avoiding the triggers, and studying the route ahead of time to improve safety.

You might be able to predict shutdowns with noise levels, exhaustion, and a change of route or routine.

You can try hearing protection at work or school to reduce sensory overload. You might be able to find products that can effectivly block wind noise. You can try making them.

Do you or someone you know find traffic safety affected by sensory load? Do you have any advice? If so, please share your comments below.

The Need for Employment Services in an Autistic Person

Employment tends to be a challenge in autistic people that at least 80% of autistic adults are unemployed. That’s why I think they need employment services.

Job interviews and keeping the job are often hard for them which is why I think they need employment services.

I feel that some networking is needed for me to pass job interviews.

Keeping jobs may be difficult too. I need clear instructions, a quiet work area, and clear performance feedback to be able to perform well. I’m still experimenting with earmuffs and ear plugs to improve concentration even if the noise doesn’t sound too loud.

I would recommend that autistic people get the workplace accommodations that they need once they’re hired.

autism accommodations.png

I learned that there are employment agencies that are trained to help disabled people find jobs. Thankfully, I’ve been getting help from one. They not only help their clients find jobs that are suitable for them but also help them to be successful in their jobs once hired.

Since autistic adults tend to have a hard time getting and keeping jobs, I think employment services are important for them.