Sensory Overload (Or, a Trip to the Supermarket) Lynsay M. Downs


violent sounds breaking stir

Ears; lights, dazzling, blur;

Scents nauseate;

Points of proprioception jangle. Numb,

As a method of defence:

Set adrift

From physical

Reality’s planes. Stumbling,

The heart’s drum

Beats as I become

Suddenly detached,

By anxiety,

From supermarket’s shared experience.

Each person

Passing slices into

The pulsating,

Disparate, snow of drenched

Senses, now stretched

Cuboid in the space around

Me. Aching muscles clenched,

Crushing my husband’s hand, seeking a point

Of real, entrenched


Daunted, stepping forward, I tense

Always expecting danger.

Retreating, I recoil

Into well etched

Spaces: castles in the midst

Of formless mind.

To the world unsigned



I spiral through membranes,

Away from words; away from shape; towards a coloured ground.

Whose patterns, depth and richness infer

Meaning. Reassuring,

By turns stabilising

My sense of existence within a world,

Newly coiffed

With people, who

Drift as mist’s ghostly furls

Around the petrified life-form, tracing

A route

Through these aisles. Guided, childlike,

By the firm hand of the one who,

With practised eye and bruised hand reviews

Her, recognising her need

For protection, as senses swirl

And temper frays. Fear rises and she who knew,

At the day’s beginning, how to be a deft

Part of society

Flounders; passing through

Darkened glass – keeping her separate

From others.


Fumbles after


Its nature cannot be communication,

Nor even relationship,

If she remains

Part of the species, in this condition.

Exhausted by pounding,

She relishes sharp,

Fresh air, as she ambles recklessly

Towards the safety

Of the car. Driving

Home, a passenger,

She is shaken, battered

By each lump and bump

Pock-marking the road.

Eyes closed against

Sunlight, bright in the crisp, clear sky. Once more, arms tensed


The swerving pull,

Provoked by corners, winding

Through the forest.

She waits, longing

After stillness;

Hoping home is waiting;



Her to make it

To the place where comforting

And restoration embrace.


An amazing poem by a fellow high-functioning autistic on Tumblr who is married to a neurotypical, and has one neurotypical child, one low-functioning autistic child, and one high-functioning autistic child. Beautiful, wonderful description of  sensory overload in my own opinion.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s