Sensory Issues – Smells

Not everyone on the autistic spectrum suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder, again I reiterate the statement that ‘One size does not fit all’. However, this is my personal tale of  how my sense of smell can affect me. I will deal with other sensory issues later on.

I decided to discuss this sensory issue today because, whilst going for a walk this morning, my sense of smell overwhelmed me. Now, anyone’s sense of smell can be evocative, certain smells bringing back memories or emotions, enhancing tastes or environment. For example, I had some lecturers who advised revising for exams with specific fragrances, which could be worn on exam day.

However, for me personally, I wear cologne and notice fragrances on a person – some to such an extent that it can be incredibly distracting – literally some scents can cause me to momentarily lose my chain of thought. I suppose that I notice some smells differently. This morning, I was walking at a busier time of day and the smell of traffic fumes was overwhelming; it’s something I’ve found to be intolerable for as long as I can recall. Growing up during the 1970s, with 4 Star leaded fuels and no emission regulations yes it’s more understandable that was unpleasant, but in modern motoring with far more environmental considerations in relation to vehicles, should it still be as severe?

This happened as a result of about three or four cars and a bus waiting in the queue at traffic lights this morning. It’s hardly like I was in rush hour in London or Beijing (both of which I have been), for me, this particular smell is overwhelming. At the time, I feel physically quite sick in my stomach and I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. It’s one of those moments where if I could block my nostrils and mouth I probably would try to.

Another situation which I feel this same way is when candles are blown out. Now, I like subtle lighting for some things and I have ‘Smart Lighting’ set up at home, which helps. But the smell of a candle being extinguished is enough to cause me a lot of distress; in the past, people who have lit candles at home, have to ask me to leave the room for a period upon blowing out candles. Again, the feeling of being unable to breathe, nausea and that my skin no longer fits me sweeps over me like a tidal wave.

So, this how my olfactory sensory processing affects me. I would be interested in hearing from others who suffer from SPD.


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