Firefox and Tumblr murdered the last one, so here you get the short version.
Sensory Overloads are nasty fucking things that happen to people who have synesthesia sometimes when things get too much. As many as 1 in 25 people could be synnies, so odds are you know someone who has it. They can also happen to people who have Asperger’s and various forms of Autism.
#1: Prevention is better than cure.
Don’t put yourself or your synnie into situations where you are more likely to have a sensory overload. For me, that means avoiding clubs and pubs when the footy’s on. Don’t feel bad for leaving the table/room/building, and don’t apologise. I don’t care if you were having dinner with the President of the United States, never make excuses for looking out for yourself. Friends, don’t pressure your synnie into staying if they’re uncomfortable or need to leave. Some of us have a sort of tell that lets you know we’re about to have an overload (Transformers fandom, quit giggling) when we can actually tell, but not everyone does. If your synnie tells you to turn off some music, turn the TV off, stop touching them etc. please do so without complaining. It is not our fault that we are sensitive to these things.
#2: Shit happens.
Sometimes, all the preparation in the world can’t help you. Sensory overloads can be very sudden, and we can’t always tell when one is about to hit. The most important thing to do is to remove yourself or your synnie from the situation as fast as possible to prevent another overload.
#3: Sensory overloads vary.
Duration, intensity and the effect they have is variable, not just from person to person. Some last for only a few seconds, but I have had one before now that lasted half an hour, and I’ve heard of some that lasted longer. Effects can include such gems as nausea, headaches, exhaustion, hypersensitivity, emotional breakdowns, fainting and shut downs.
#4: What do I do?
As much as we love our friends, they’re not mind-readers. If you need something to help you recover, be it a hug, a glass of water or to be left alone, try and tell the person present. I know it can be difficult, and you may not be coherent, but you need to help them to help you.
Friends, be patient. If we’re not making much sense it’s because we’re all over the fucking place and may not have any idea what’s going on. Getting snappy or irritated with us is not going to help. Yes, it’s tiring looking after someone post-overload, but it’s pretty damn exhausting feeling like you brain just exploded too. This isn’t something we can control.
Understand that what may have helped last time may not help this time.
Sensory overloads can trigger panic attacks or asthma attacks in sufferers. Make sure your synnie has their inhaler handy.
Try to keep other people away. Being crowded when you have a sensory overload is awful, and can trigger another one.
Don’t just grab your synnie. They may be hypersensitive to touch, and you could make things worse.
Be quiet. Yelling isn’t going to help. Speak quietly and clearly. It might take a while for us to notice you’re even talking.
Sometimes pets can help reduce the effects of a sensory overload.
For the love of cats, don’t just dump your synnie somewhere and leave them. Sometimes we become unresponsive and can’t physically react to stimuli. We’re not being mean or spiteful, and we can’t defend ourselves in this state.
DO NOT PANIC. It is distressing to witness a sensory overload, but freaking out can make us panic, which will only worsen the problem. It is essential that you stay calm, especially if your synnie is having an emotional breakdown.
#5: Sensory overloads aren’t always to do with our particular variation of synesthesia.
I see sound. I have sound-colour synesthesia. However, I have had more sensory overloads brought about through touch than sound. Just because your synnie has a certain kind of synesthesia doesn’t mean they can’t have sensory overloads through other stimuli.
And that’s all I can think of for now. Please feel free to add shit in that I missed, and hopefully this’ll help someone.