We have eight main senses and, as neurodivergents, there is a very strong possibility that we will have hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity related to multiple senses.

The eight commonly recognised senses are:

  1. Visual (sight) – also see light sensitivity (photophobia)
  2. Olfactory (smell)
  3. Auditory (sound)
  4. Gustatory (taste)
  5. Tactile (touch)
  6. Vestibular (balance related to feelings in our head, such as dizziness, vertigo – inner ear related)
  7. Proprioception (balance, where we are in relation to the things around us)
  8. Interoception (internal triggers that tell us when we’re hungry, need the toilet, need to sleep etc)

 

You can click on each of these eight to go to the glossary entry for that sense. Importantly, none of these senses operate in isolation – they work together and, often, they work against each other.

  • An example would be that you may love the smell, or even the taste, of a particular food but the texture makes you gag – so you can’t eat it.
  • You may really like the look of the Big Dipper at the fair but your stomach and head don’t agree with you!
  • You really enjoy feeling warm (particularly if you are hypersensitive to cold) but you cannot tolerate the bright sunshine that comes with that if you go abroad on holiday.

At the very least, these contradictions, sending messages whirring around our own body, are frustrating. They can also be debilitating, painful and anxiety-inducing. Sensory sensitivities are not our choice. We’re not being picky, we’re not being precious or attention-seeking. This is all part of our neurology and we don’t have conscious control over them. Goodness knows life would be so much easier if we did! That’s important to remember.