Video about sensory overload

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have problems with noise sensitivity. For that reason, I prefer to stay away from a range of common types of places and events such as parties, dinners, shopping malls, train stations, and so on, and I often use ear plugs to cope with noisy everyday situations.

This video, shared by Aspieme, illustrates well how common ambient ‘soundscapes’ can sound when your* ‘sensory filters’ are missing or incomplete, and a chaos of random ambient noise and visual impulses constantly hurl straight into your mind at a much faster rate than what you can process. Then follows the inevitable consequence of drowning in sensory inputs: the mental traffic jam called sensory overload.


The video illustrates both the flooding with general ambient noise and flickr, sudden assaults caused by specific trigger noises, and surrounding peoples’ indifference to the mayhem around them.

For me personally, the street scene hits the mark, the cafe scene not so much. The cafe soundscape elements are right, but real life doesn’t introduce them gently one by one. Real life cafes tend to have a much higher noise density, loudness and murmur of chatter ‘spiced’ with sudden, loud, sharp and high pitched noises which may have a slight echo-like effect** in rooms with hard surfaces (like cafes tend to have). Sudden outbreaks of high pitched girl laughter tend to be louder and infectious, starting off lavines of sudden group-laughter… and so on. Still, the video excellently illustrates the overwhelming real soundscapes of everyday situations which most people tend to filter automatically without even thinking about it.


*’You’ used as a general pronoun here

** Turns out that the majority of words are based on the visual sense, which makes it hard to describe sound-perception

Clipart of abstract red bearhead
(This image is mainly here because every post needs an image as icon to work with the “Related” system below. Image by jpd2010 on


5 thoughts on “Video about sensory overload

  1. aspiewriter

    Excellent video I just viewed it with my husband. I agree with you on the cafe scene; they are introduced individually here but in a live setting we don’t have the luxury of being introduced to the sounds one-by-one. I have tremendous sensitivites to sound, which is a big contributing factor to overloads.


  2. ashanam

    Because of hypervigilance related to trauma symptoms, I have trouble with noisy environments as well. When I’m doing well, I can enjoy them–I enjoy living in a noisy, active city–but I can only take it for so long. When I’m not, it’s terribly hard. Sustained periods of quiet help me cope.

    I couldn’t, incidentally, get through the whole video. I found myself covering my ears after 1 minute and 9 seconds. Kudos to you on keeping it together in a world that feels like that to you. It can’t be easy.


    1. Mados

      That is interesting. I know autism is a common cause of this type of problems and that fibromyalgia can be a cause too. I wasn’t aware that hypervigilance due to trauma can cause noise sensitivity.

      I listened through the entire video and was left with a mild shock effect a bit AKA real life but not as bad. Somehow it helped that it is a super controlled setting, and while the sounds were loud, I didn’t find the ‘soundscape’ totally chaotic like ambience in e.g. a mall or dinner in a restaurant (there wasn’t as much reverberance maybe?)

      It is also interesting that you actually enjoy noisy environments on good days. My tolerance also differs depending on whether, metaphorically, ‘my cup is already full’, but I never really like noisy, hyperactive environments. – unless they are not noisy/chaotic/flickering, and outdoor 😉 Then a buzzing city ambience can feel vibrant and energising, I think I understand what you mean.


  3. Pingback: My Touchy Feely Aspie Family « myaspiewife

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