Auditory Processing

Auditory processing difficulties might require lip reading instead of eye contact.

  • I saw a study tracking eye movement while watching movies that found that autistic subjects tended to watch mouths instead of eyes (to link)
  • I have family members that lip read to assist with auditory processing
  • most of my family turns subtitles on for anything that has the option – which is a lot more now than it used to be
  • I have trouble processing audio on a phone call, less so if I’m familiar with the voice
  • another family member recognizes people by voice instead of face, I tend to recognize silhouette and gait – not sure if that counts a face blindness? I think I recognize faces in photos, but it’s hard to determine if that’s based on knowledge/memorization of the photo/deductive reasoning or actual recognition
  • ADHD plus sensitive hearing means I have a hard time or find it impossible to tune out other conversations – I can often track up to three conversations (though not participate in) but beyond that I suddenly can’t understand anyone
  • I really really really dislike being in restaurants except for ones that have high back booths that block the surrounding sound
  • the hum of fluorescent lights is horrible
  • I hate vacuuming – not because of the volume, but because of the tiny changes that sound like something is or is about to go wrong with the motor

Input Required

I had a friend ask for ideas, I’m generalizing here for anyone it might help.

Kiddo asks parent for proprioceptive input.

Parent either can’t or can only offer some input.

Kiddo can’t handle the refusal – they already are disregulated and needing input, so they escalate.

My suggestions came from my experience:

1 One, it’s ok to have boundaries, and the less someone respects your boundaries, the bigger the boundaries have to be.

I’ve described it like the following distance when driving – if someone in front of you or behind you is tailgaiting, you need a larger following distance. That way if the person in front crashes from tailgaiting you have time to brake. If the person behind is too close then you also need time to brake slowly so they don’t hit you like they would if you had to stop suddenly.

What this looks like is stopping your kiddo farther away and asking them to slow down and ask first. If they are too disregulated to respect the boundaries, then you know to take action to protect yourself and help them get regulated. For example my personal bubble with the kiddo is my head and my back, if he wants to go behind me he has to ask, and if he wants to touch my face he has to ask, and if he wants to give me a hug, he doesn’t have to ask unless he’s trying to come up behind me.

2 Two, if they are asking for input you can’t give, try to give them or help them get the input they need. I’ll offer “squeezies” – a big bear hug, “squishies” – squishing the kiddo between me and a counter/wall/etc. or “jumpies” – holding hands and the kiddo jumps while pushing down on my hands, similar to holding a gym bar or pushing down on a counter or table and jumping.

In this case kiddo wanted what we call “shoulder bup” – sitting on shoulders. The two alternatives I thought of was doing a piggy back and then leaning against the wall to take some of the weight off or doing the shoulder bup with leaning back so that most of the kiddo’s weight ends up on the back of the seat if available.

If those aren’t options, a headstand or handstand might help or the other types of input mentioned. Another one we like is “Timber!” where they call that and you are a tree that then falls down on them – usually sitting side by side and leaning into them.

How do I get people to take my advice?

First I have a question – how do YOU feel when someone gives you unsolicited advice?

  • Patronized? (Mansplained)
  • Condescended to?
  • Defensive?
  • Criticized?
  • Angry?
  • Annoyed or irritated?
  • Appreciative?
  • Grateful?

If it’s more like the first ones and not the last two, why would someone else feel differently?

What would happen if instead you asked if they were open to you sharing ideas or your experience?

What if you respected if they weren’t ready to hear it, but at least they know you’re available if they want it?

What if you asked them what they think they need or what they want, and why they want it? Could you ask leading questions so they could figure things out on their own?

What would happen if you took your own advice first? What would it look like to be the change you want to see?

What are you missing if people aren’t listening to you? Are you not connecting first? Are you regulated? Are they?

Cassandra from Greek Mythology embodies the anguish of seeing the future and not being able to do anything about it. But it’s a misleading tale – we can do something about it, but not the thing that is easy for us – telling others.

We have to do the hard work of helping them see for themselves, or the even harder work of connecting with others so strongly that they trust us to be looking out for their best interests as well.

Wood Fidget Working

Discussion on woodworking and needing to sand something:

the best way to do it was honestly just to run my fingers all over it and feel for burrs and rough spots. Doing so was deeply satisfying


I just got into woodworking because of this, I’ve been picking up little bits of wood and either using a small file, fingernail, rock, stick, whatever I have available to work on them. I figure I can make a “fidget wood” (driftwood) mobile when I have enough of them. 😀 It’s so satisfying!

I have been trying to do it outside so I don’t have to worry about dust, but now I’m thinking a mini pouch – like a drawstring bag that opens flat – to store the wood & tool in and catch the dust when working it indoors would be good. I think I recall research about touching wood vs manmade stuff that I’m going to go look for now that I’m thinking of it…..

I also like to use pet nail grinders, nail drills or a Dremel (heavier, so that’s why I like the nail ones) for when I want to work on something, but my fingers or hands are too tired.

I’m thinking I might try making some worry wood, like a worry stone, just to carry around in a pocket to rub.

Eye Contact and Listening

Things folks could learn to say:

I feel _________ when you don’t make eye contact when ________________ (I’m talking to you/you’re talking to me).

Uncomfortable, disrespected, ignored, irritated, insulted, angry, annoyed


I feel ignored when you don’t make eye contact when I’m talking to you. Can you face toward me, and if not, is there another way you can let me know you are listening?


I can orient my body toward you without eye contact.
I’m listening when I’m looking at this fidget.
I’m listening when <insert visual or auditory cue that you are listening>

I feel disrespected when you don’t make eye contact when I’m talking to you. Can you face toward me, and if not, is there another way you can let me know you are respecting my need for your attention?


I can orient my body toward you without eye contact.
I’m paying attention when I’m looking at this fidget <or other visual or auditory cue>
I understand that you feel disrespected, and I would like you to respect my need to avoid eye contact. How can we compromise?

I feel uncomfortable when you don’t make eye contact when I’m talking to you. Can you look at me when I’m talking?


I can orient my body toward you without eye contact.
I understand that you feel uncomfortable , and I feel uncomfortable with eye contact. How can we compromise?

I feel irritated/insulted/angry/annoyed when you don’t make eye contact when I’m talking to you. Can you look at me when I’m talking?


I can orient my body toward you without eye contact.
I struggle with eye contact and it would be a kindness if you can be flexible with me.
I understand that lack of eye contact is viewed negatively in our culture. I’m trying to advocate for diversity by expressing my need to avoid eye contact in order to focus and listen.
I’m sorry, I understand that currently lack of eye contact is considered rude in our culture. I’m Autistic and eye contact is challenging for me. By being open with you, I’m hoping that we can be part of the change that helps our society become more open and tolerant of differences such as neurodiversity.
I understand the struggle when our communication needs aren’t met. Will you meet my communication needs?

Being on the same level is more important than eye contact (think sitting side by side facing the same way instead of towards each other, or those conversations that happen in vehicles) – come down to their level or bring them up to yours.


The Value of an Umbrella—the Concept of Environmental Sensitivity

As my research into sensitivity advanced, it became clear to me that what the three leading theories on sensitivity (sensory processing sensitivity by Elaine and Art Aron, differential susceptibility by Jay Belsky, and biological sensitivity to context by Tom Boyce and Bruce Ellis) have in common is that all three suggest that some people are especially strongly affected by environmental influences. In order to facilitate research across these related yet different concepts, I integrated the three theories into the framework of environmental sensitivity. Importantly, environmental sensitivity doesn’t replace the three long-standing theories of sensitivity, but instead seeks to combine different aspects of the theories to provide a broader and more comprehensive perspective.

My Journey as a Sensitivity Researcher by Prof. Michael Pluess – The Highly Sensitive Person (

I’ve been correlating a bunch of stuff that strikes me as being the same and was wondering how it could get shifted to allow more coordination & collaboration – the umbrella idea is great!

Environmental Sensitivity” is Michael Pluess’ proposed term to encompass sensory processing sensitivity (high sensitivity – highly sensitive person – HSP), differential susceptibility, and biological sensitivity

Free tests and research information at the joint site on Sensitivity Research

I haven’t had a chance to review it yet, but I recall from Elaine Aron‘s work that HSPs are generally 20% (maybe 20-30%) of the population – both among humans and other species. It seems to be the optimal balance for species diversity and success.

Much of the research shows that HSPs are more responsive to their environment – meaning those with healthy (mental, physical & emotional) childhoods do better than average, and those with challenging childhoods (abuse, neglect, illness, toxin exposure, etc.) do much worse.

Here’s my umbrella hypothesis about sensitivity and the signs of it.