Too Much! Asperger’s Sensory Overload

Parents with undiagnosed Asperger’s

Having discovered that I’m an Aspie late in life (I’m 43 and found out about 6 years ago) I didn’t know that most of the other people around me were not experiencing sensory overload in the same way as I was.  It didn’t help that I grew up in a slightly unusual household, both my parents having Aspergers (but didn’t know it of course).  They were  sensitive to sound, smells, movement and light.

I have memories of my Father in particular struggling with me sitting on the floor in front of him whilst watching TV.  I am a fidget and rarely sit still for long, or I am often to be found doing something else like cross-stitch at the same time as watching.  The movement really annoyed him and I was told to sit still or leave the room as there was no-where in the room I could sit away from his peripheral vision.  I simply can’t sit still so I spent many hours in our kitchen watching our little black and white portable TV on my own instead.

My Father also had a hard time with strong smells.  Garlic was banned from the house, as was perfume, and air fresheners.  One quick sniff of my teenage clothes would inform my Dad if I’d had a sneaky cigarette on the way home.

I remember my Father getting really angry when a car engine could be heard idling for a few minutes late one night right outside our house, he put his dressing gown on, went outside and asked them to either turn the engine off or leave!

My Asperger’s has got more noticeable for me as I have got older

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My tolerance for these things has got progressively worse as I’ve got older.  I might even say like Father like Daughter in some cases.  Where I might have thought Dad’s reaction to the car engine was over-the-top at the time, when I have the same situation before me I feel that rush of anger after only a few seconds, so I totally get it. He was actually being restrained!

The problem for me is when several senses are overloaded simultaneously.  This poses a problem because I need to withdraw, regroup and make sense of the situations one by one before I’m back to an operational state.

I’ll give you an example.  Parking the car. It’s not a particularly hot day but it’s warm enough that as I’m trying to figure out the best space to go in (which can take me a while as I wrestle with the decisions about whether the space is large enough, am I too close to the next car, do I need to get into my boot, do I need to pay?) I get agitated and start to feel hot (touch/temperature), and I turn the radio off because it’s wittering on and adding to my discomfort (sound), then it might be really bright today or there’s a reflection from a window that blinds me for a moment (sight).  At the same time some twit walks behind the car as I’m reversing into a space. (sight)….Meltdown!

Here’s how my Asperger’s affects how I react to senses

Taste – I have very sensitive taste buds.  My poor hubby loves spices and heat and “exciting’ food, but I’m happy with very simple food because I enjoy all the subtle and delicate flavours. I really struggle with strong flavours and cannot do chillies or garam masala. I also have trouble with certain textures but maybe this is more like a touch sensitivity?

Touch – Being too hot or too cold is difficult.  I can equate it to if you really need to pee, it’s all you can think about, nothing else matters.  That’s what it’s like for me in extremes of temperature.  But I am careful not to inflict my temperature issues on others, I wear extra thermals, grab a hot water bottle, or grab an icepack to go on my pulse points rather than throw open windows or put on the heating to affect others around me. I like to be hugged by people I want to hug. But if someone is idly fiddling with my arm or leg or something I’d have to ask them to stop. If someone was kicking my chair or tapping their leg and shaking the floor, I’d have to ask them stop before I got really really angry. (I don’t turn into the Hulk but it’s not pretty.)

img_2938Sound – I have a lot of trouble with repetitive music or music without a clear tune (e.g. interpretive jazz), running engines, hammering, fireworks, very loud noises frighten me, (e.g. balloons popping) garden strimmers, drilling, cutlery on china, and repetitive clicking when playing a video game.  Some of these are tolerable if it’s me doing the activity e.g. drilling and hammering, but I’ll often have my earbuds in playing some music instead.  Just because I’m a walking contradiction I love really loud music when it’s tunes I love.  I’m a rock fan, especially prog-rock band Muse and their concerts are REALLY LOUD!  Hand dryers in toilets hurt so much I have to rush out of the Ladies to get away from it.  It’s like a slap in the face. I don’t know why – maybe it’s a control thing.

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Sight – I’m not a fan of strobe lights, and the similar effect you get when driving past a lot of trees with the sun low in the sky.  Bright lights are challenging, but needed in a room when I’m vacuuming! I have trouble with fluorescent lights that flicker, it’s almost impossible for me to concentrate on anything else and I usually have to leave the room. I can liken it to someone poking me in the eye repeatedly. Some colours when put together really “do my head in” to coin a phrase, and I have to look away.  Very fast action in some films I can’t watch -it’s an overload.

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Smell – If someone smells bad (food related, or body odour or smoke on their clothes) I can’t concentrate on the conversation because the smell is too ‘loud” in my head. I have to step back or try to give myself another smell, perhaps put some perfume on my collar and turn my head, or try to breathe through my mouth. I’m attracted to nice smells like everyone else. I have two cats so I have to make sure the house is clean because I can smell even quite subtle smells and then I can’t think about anything else if they are unpleasant.

Environment – I’m not great with crowds, despite putting up with it for Muse concerts, I feel overwhelmed by sounds and smells and voices.  I don’t feel safe and I become very timid and childlike it its really busy.  I avoid going to Christmas fayres in cities, or just cities unless it’s a very brief visit, and not on a weekend. I even stay in my seat at concerts until everyone else has gone or we are ushered out of our seats so that I can hang back and let everyone else go head of me.

I know we all react differently to different things in different situations, but it would be really cool if people who are unaffected by this kind of sensitivity were caring and understanding to those who are.

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Empathy is hard to force if you just don’t “get it” but it’s within everyone’s personal control to decide how to respond to someone who is obviously having a hard time – it doesn’t matter why they are having a hard time or whether we can relate to it. We can just be kind and offer help and support.

Do you know anyone who has sensory sensitivity?  Could they have Asperger’s? Are you sympathetic to their reactions?

See my video on my take on sensory overload HERE.

If you want to know more about me and what I do, visit my website here:

www.get-your-message-across.com

Because Communication isn’t optional. 

 

Facebook Ads – Getting them right first time!

Getting Facebook Ads right first time can be tricky

I kept getting Facebook Ads rejected because of various reasons, not always well explained e.g. too many words on my photo.

There are some strict rules that need to be adhered to to ensure your Facebook Ad will be approved quickly especially if you send the prospective customer to a lead page.

There are some things you must ensue you have in place if you want to exploit Facebook Ads fully and turn prospective clients into paying customers.

You can just have Ads on Facebook that direct people to events on Facebook or to content on a Facebook page but one of the most effective ways to use the Facebook Ads is to send people to a landing page or web page to get them to sign up to free content/products or offers that you might be selling.  You can say so much more and you can allow customers to see what else you do.

  • Choose a compelling picture, either copyright free or take one of your own. Or possibly use a short video.
  • Look at other Facebook Ads that you like the look of and see how they phrase their wording to get a feel for what works well (less is more).
  • You can’t make claims on the Ad that you will make loads of money or get loads of business or lose loads of weight in a short amount of time…..
  • Use FB ads with lead pages to maximise the impact, reach and click rate (which could just be a landing page on your website) or lead page software like Lead Pages, Unbounce, Instapage….

For Facebook Ads to a landing page you must have the following:

  • Clear purpose e.g. sign up here for a free monthly email newsletter, or register for a free webinar, or click here to buy something (describe it)
  • Branded clearly as yours (so people know it’s your company and not on behalf of someone else they didn’t expect to be affiliated to)
  • Must have a Privacy Policy link to your website
  • Must have a Terms and Conditions Link to your website
  • Must have a Contact Us page link from your website
  • If you are using Cookies, you must tell them upfront.
  • If it s subscription to an email you must offer an unsubscribe any time option

The key is to be truthful, don’t be mysterious, and be really clear about what you are offering.  This Ad sends people off to my website page showing all the courses on offer and how to get in touch to enrol.  It simple but I have made sure that I have satisfied all the rules as shown above and it was approved within an hour.

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You could choose to have a video on your landing page instead of a lot of words, and that’s really good because you’re giving people a chance to get to know you.  Keep it short and sweet, and invite them to engage with you further by signing up.  Keep your energy up, be appropriate, check your lighting, don’t be overpowered by music if you use it, and get someone you trust to give you feedback on the video before you send it out.

Facebook Ads targeting

Now you have all that sorted you need to narrow down your fishing net to target your ideal customers.  Here’s some of my results from an Ad I ran recently. As you can see my Ad appealed to women more than men based on the choices I made when I put in my target audience.  The next time I send it out I can look up what men are interested in and tailor my Ad to that market.

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Because you may have many demographics that you target, you can choose to hone in on one at a time in each marketing campaign to get maximum reach.  You want your potential customer to read your lead page and say to themselves, he/she is speaking to ME, he/she understands me, and he/she’s got something I want.

What do your prospective clients look like?

What groups are they in?  What Pages do they like?

What hobbies do they have?   How old are they?

Where do they live? What is their disposable income like?

Do I want to market just to those who have already liked my FB page?

You can narrow down the demographic criteria fairly easily if you imagine your ideal customer and what a day in the life of them is like. Where do they go? What do hey do?  

Can you imagine what their life is like and find the right words for them?  Tailor each lead page for each potential customer so they feel special and you make a connection with them.  If you try to cast your net too wide, you won’t make a personal connection with your prospective clients and no-one will buy.

Facebook Ads are not free

Decide how much you want to spend and how long your campaign and ads are going to be.  If you are offering free webinars consider putting them on more than once on different dates at different times to allow maximum attendance. Always remember to sell something at the end of the webinar, you’ve just put all your energy and preparation into giving free content on the webinar, and attendees have got a chance to get to know you so this is a great time to make an offer to them.

Facebook will give you stats on how many people have clicked your ad and how many people signed up for your metrics. (Needed to establish how successful your ad campaign was).  Here this shot shows the breakdown on age as my Ad ran for all ages 18-65+.  Next time I can target a specific age group to get better targeting.

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This one tells me that most of the views were on mobile devices so that tell she a lot about my viewing public. If I was aiming towards the silver surfer demographic I might expect to see many more desktop clicks.

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Return on Investment (ROI) is how you will decide if a campaign has been successful and whether or not your price per click is worth it.  if it is, you might wan to repeat that offering or repeat that demographic with a new offering that is similar to the previous one if that was what they were interested in.

Hope you found this useful – I am just sharing what I have learned.

Make Facebook Ads work for you – first time, every time

For more info and courses see www.get-your-message-across.com