Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sensory Overload Part Three

I recently moved to a new position at my retail job.  Instead of working as a cashier, I am now working in the clothing department stocking shelves.  This department is much smaller than the previous department I was working for.  While I had received the change I wanted, it came with challenges of its own.

I am more prone to sensory overload in this new position due to the lack of established routine.  As a cashier, it was easy to predict the work pace from the amount of customers present in the store.  I had a routine that I would stick to loyally and that would get me through the day without too much sensory overload, although it didn't always work.  I would say virtually the same speech to every customer.  "How are you doing today?"  "Did you find everything alright?"  As opportunity presented itself, I might talk about cats if I saw cat food; I might talk to the kids a little.  It was much easier to conceal that I was on the spectrum due to my ability to stick to this routine for extended periods of time.

In my new position, it is different.  I often have to stop what I'm doing to help customers.  There is virtually no way to predict when that might occur, so I have been caught off guard more than once.  To minimize my sensory overload, I might speak quickly, and sometime incoherently to keep the sensations from building up.  Other times, I might speak disjointedly and ask to clarify what might be obvious information to collect my thoughts, and again keep the sensations from building up.

Although it is easier than my position as a cashier in terms of workload, it is still a new experience which takes some getting used to.  To protect myself from sensory overload while being trained, I minimized my responses to mostly one or two word phrases.  This allowed me to absorb large amounts of new information without sensory overload. It is problematic because my new boss is having difficulty gauging exactly what I know about the position, but it can't be helped at this point.  It will get easier as I learn more, and most importantly, establish a routine.

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