My Sensory System Works Differently by Navneet Kulkarni

My sensory system is very different, different in seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, sense of touch, sense of motion, sense of body movement, and sense of thinking and feeling emotions and pain. In my body, all senses work together. There is always a blending of senses. It is so confusing for my brain to get information from all the senses at the same time. My whole body triggers. Because of this high frequency in electric vibrations, my senses become very active. My brain waves are like ocean waves. My mind becomes overwhelmed. I try to balance my mind but sometimes it is not under my control. My senses make me very distracted sometimes. I want to tell you about all my senses and how I process them differently.

My Auditory Sense: My auditory system functions passively most of the time. It means I listen very deeply, without any responses with actions, without giving attention. God made my auditory system very sensitive. I can hear all sorts of sounds when a person talks. God has injected different sensory system which makes me listen to all surrounding sounds at the same time. Some people talk very softly and some people talk very loudly. From sounds of talks, I feel the person, using animation in mind. Hearing persons talks through intuition is God’s gift to me.

To balance my auditory system, show me more actions and gestures rather than talking and giving instructions. Keep your talks less and more gestures. When you give instructions or call me when I'm inside, I will reply to you by humming or coming near you, showing through body language. Don't think Autistic kids are deaf. They hear your talks very deeply. To process hearing from sending information to brain and reading in mind and forming words and sentences and to keep sentence and words through talks is a very difficult task for Autism. It takes time in all this processing. So give time to think and respond. Shouting makes kids auditory system disturbed, sounds make them irritable and ears start to hurt, so soften your voice to make them understand your language. 

My Visual Sense: My vision is very sensitive. Feels like bright light touching in different forms inside my eye. My eyes get tired with bright light. I sometimes get headaches because of bright lights. So I feel like sitting in a darkroom so that I can make my eyes calm. Having sensitive eyesight means having the power of seeing something very dramatically. All characters start playing each of their roles. My vision makes me read the mind of people. It makes me see people showing signs of character. Bright lights sometimes make me feel strong vibrations having higher power of energy getting inside my body. I already see with strong rays in my eyes. When someone tells me to make eye contact it hurts my eyes. Different rays from the person emerges into my eyes and my eyes get overloaded. To take their instructions from looking at their eyes becomes very painful. Eye contact helps a person to understand what they are seeing, but in my case it's very different. I can ponder over a person's talking and discussion without looking at them. Having insight is God's gift to me. Having insight means knowing about a person and things very clearly in intuition.

Sometimes, my behavior may look very funny to others. I sometimes look at my fingers, moving them up and down because from doing something like that the brain functions on emotion. It controls my emotions. It makes my mind to regulate my body. I sometimes looks at a switchboard. In that, I see dots and join the shapes in my mind. I hold a spoon with small holes. In that, I see stars and I see stars in my hand. Sometimes, I look at tube lights and fans to understand the frequency of light and see the motion of rotating fan. My mind gets disturbed by seeing dark colors on the wall. Light colors make my mind very peaceful.

Autistic kids may have fluctuations in senses, so when kids feel sensitive to light, calm them by giving rest to their eyes. You can use eye cooling mask. You can use thin cloth filled with fresh cucumber. Early morning sunlight is good for healthy eyesight. For sensitive eyes, give different glasses to wear to balance light. Give rest to eyes by playing some soothing music. Eyes feel relaxed by listening to music. From listening to music we get balance in all senses.


My Sense of Touch: My sense of touch always fluctuates. Sometimes, I feel like touching different textures to make myself aware of my body. To me, connecting to my body and mind is possible when I use the tactile method. Touch sense alerts my hand to connect with the brain. Sometimes, I feel calm when I touch different textures. I love to feel hot things. I love to have hot food. Sometimes, I love to feel the misty air so I open the freezer door to feel it and my skin cells become active. Touch of mother’s hand on head feels like all worries are wiped out. It feels very secure and long lasting joy forever. God has made the sense of touch in a very gentle manner. For mother and kids, there is a great bonding since the baby is in mother's womb, it feels the sense of touch when mother touches her tummy. The child starts dancing until the mother feels the movements of the child and starts touching her tummy. For me, since from the day I was born and till now I feel lovely when my mother touches my head and kisses my forehead. Imagine if a baby feels calm when a mother just touches her tummy from outside, then how calm a child must feel when you touch the child gently when the child is in front of you.

Touch is the quickest and easiest way of calming. Touch increases the levels of dopamine and it helps to release stress and anxiety. Touch controls our emotions. Pressing gently on all the joints of the body makes the child calm. Touch of different textures feels different. When I touch a soft textured pillow, I feel relaxed. While sleeping also I hold a soft pillow, and cover my head with a pillow, and sleep with a soft blanket. It gives me so much relief in sleeping and it gives me sound sleep. And hard and spiky textures makes me alert so I feel like touching spiky balls and feel like walking on spiky door mats. And I sometimes take a comb and feel like rubbing it on my palms. By doing that, I feel more alert.

I do not like being hugged by someone because they may touch me hard and it irritates me, but I love to hug my mother because I hug gently and I know how I'm hugging. Hugging someone and getting hugged by someone feels different. So, if a child is very sensitive to touch do not make them irritable by your touch. Instead of you touching your child, let your child hug you so it feels comfortable. Sometimes, I get so irritable by touching wet and sticky items, but when I wipe it with a napkin I feel better. When I was younger, it was a big issue, but now I can manage it by wiping my hands often.

My Sense of Smell: I love to smell food items. It is connected with my mood. I feel very happy when I smell garlic fried, and I love the smell of sambar. I love to smell different flavors like mango, vanilla, strawberries, mint. I love to smell the room freshener. I like sandalwood, jasmine and lavender. Whenever we are traveling outside the city by car, I feel motion sickness but when I smell lemon I feel so much cool and fit. My mother always keeps some lip balm with strawberry flavor and some Nilgiri oil in her bag. Whenever I feel uncomfortable, she gives it to me to smell and I feel better and it stabilizes my mood. When I come across bad smells I get distracted. I immediately feel better when a good smell replaces the bad smell.

My Sense of Taste: I am a foodie. I love to eat spicy food and I taste every food with deep imagination. The sweet taste I imagine in my mouth, I relate it to my heart, and the spicy and masala tastes I imagine, I relate them to my brain. Heart and brain both are important for us to live, so we need to balance sweet and spicy in our diet. I feel the food in different form, whatever the food is, homemade is the best. Homemade food is pure. Mother's affection and love is filled in each bite we eat. Sometimes, the food will be less spicy, sometimes, more salty, but we have to adjust. Do not make fun of food because your bad words may hurt someone's feelings. However the food is, it can be corrected, but the words you speak cannot be taken back. Taste of food is related with emotions which you show while preparing food. If your mood is good, you can prepare delicious food. If your mood is bad then there is chance of spoiling the food. So prepare food with good mood.


My Proprioceptive Sense: I like crispy and spicy food. My jaw muscles relax when I eat hard food. It gives proprioceptive input. I used to feel discomfort when having soft food. I hardly used to feel the soft textures in my mouth, so it was so confusing whether to chew or to swallow. Now, I like all textured food because of oral massages.

I have problems with verbal communication because I feel my tongue movements and jaw movements very rarely coordinate with sounds. God has made me nonverbal. But no speech does not mean no communication. I can talk through gestures and typing. I have a poor proprioceptive sense. It is hard for me to unite all movements together to form words through speech. These movements are essential for speech production. For me, feeling something and expressing my thoughts through speech is very difficult. My hands get more information than my tongue. My body shows awareness in some directions but movements lack. Knowing the task and turning the task into action differs. I understand the task but doing it through hand movements is problematic in receiving signal from the brain. Body movements exist in feeling rather than in action. To me, feelings are higher than actions. Body awareness happens when the soul connects with the body and it starts performing actions, but my soul sometimes forgets to be connected with the present. I sometimes go into the past or into the future. God has made my life in such a way that I am giggling. God makes me uncomfortable because I want to feel more present. My physical presence and my mind connects when I do physical exercises. When my mother does joint compressions, every joint of my body becomes alert. When I do brain gym exercises and when I do meditation it makes me aware of my body and mind.

My Vestibular Sense: My vestibular system functions differently. I love to swing. I feel like I'm flying high in the sky, rocking with rhythm. Swinging is a very good activity for spacial awareness. Rocking is a stimming behavior. It should not be stopped. It gives pleasure of calming when brain is draining. It may look bad to rock in front of other people but it does not harm others so please do not stop it. You can replace it with fidgeting toys. I always like to fidget when I'm not doing any activities. It helps me to self-regulate. Fidgeting makes my brain process things deeply. It makes my thinking better and increases my focus and attention span. Fidgeting makes my body motion feel balanced. I balance the motion with my hand movements.

My Interoceptive Sense: I have a good sense of pain and hunger. My interoceptive sense feels the pain and I express it very easily. My interoceptive sense tell me what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. My internal body parts indicate the healthy signal to my brain. To develop a good sense of interoception one should listen to music. For some kids, this sense is very weak, so by doing meditation and exercises one can develop a good sense of interoception and mindfulness.

~ Navneet Kulkarni

5 Comments

  1. OMG! Navneet, Neha thank you so much for this! 😍♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

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  2. πŸ‘Navneet, thanks for sharing your wonderful feelings with us. Stay healthy n god bless you

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  3. Grt Navneet, thank you very much for your inputs. My daughter goes aggressive, bites herself, beats others when she becomes very angry.. Can you please elaborate on this?

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  4. Thank you, Navneet. Your article gives a very good explanation of the sensory system of an autistic person and how he/she can be helped.

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