I have sensory overload

Young stroke survivors talk about sensory overload and how it affects them every day.

Some of the topics discussed will get you thinking about your own experiences. If you feel any distress, talk with someone you trust—perhaps a family member, friend, or your doctor. If you need support, information or advice StrokeLine’s health professionals are available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, AEST. Call StrokeLine on 1800 787 653 or email strokeline@strokefoundation.org.au. Lifeline is available 24 hours a day on 13 11 44.

See all resources.

Please help us improve our resources by providing some quick feedback.

Video transcript

Toni: Walking again. It’s all related to that sensory overload. So last year, I was doing a walk with my son and it was only just, you know, close to home walk and the wind just started blowing. So the sensory overload got set off, I couldn’t walk any further. I couldn’t talk. And so he had to call my husband to come and pick us up.

Paula: I can’t have TV on the radio on. I can’t do it. I get really irritated. And my husband says “Oh, just calm down.” No, I can’t. I cannot cope.

Justin: You know, I used to play loud music in the car, and I’m not doing that now. Like even, I don’t even bother putting music on loud noise. It would wouldn’t be good for me. If I went into that place where heaps of people would come up to me, I would be .. not good.

Toni: For me, it is sitting at the dinner table and talking. I’ve got three adult children, two of them with partners. If they are talking and my husband goes to talk to me, that sets it off. Wind blowing can set it off. Bending over to do up a shoelace can set it off. Going to the shop sets it off. A car driving past us on the road can set it off. So it really is anything. So it’s something that I am impacted by every day on multiple occasions.

Paula: I can’t move, I cannot move from my seat. The carpet is doing my head in. This carpet. I cannot move. I feel like I’m going to fall over if I walk on this carpet.

Bethany: I suppose a good example When The Fringe is on, I’m pretty close to where they have the garden. And the lights got me. Yeah, I find that difficult to deal with because of the crowds and the traffic, and it just gets a bit much. There are times where I will avoid going out on weekends when that happens. I’ve been having an annoying neighbor who’s been quite loud. I’ve been told to get noise canceling earphones to help. I can get quite angry or irritable quite quickly. And that can also make my sensory overload worse.

Sophie: I struggle a lot, I think, in crowded environments with lots of stimulation, but I haven’t been able to fully explore that yet.

Michael: You learn to live with it. A good example is shopping. If I go by myself doing the shopping, my wife writes up a list of things that we need, and I always go to an Aldi which is close by because every Aldi is the same. Safeway recently underwent a refurbishment and I went in there and I was lost for the first time because things were, things have been moved around. And, you know, just just things like that you notice as you go and you adapt. In the past, I used to, you know, panic straight away. Just give up and leave, you know. Whereas, now I just force myself to think and adapt and try to find my way around.