Updated: Dec 5, 2019
Human beings have 28 senses that we currently know of, and may have more. Not just 5. Those 28 senses, any combination of them, or any one of them, can cause sensory overload and a sensory-triggered meltdown; further, any of those could also be lacking in their sensitivity, and people might not get the right amount of info to and from their bodies and brains; AND some people might get their signals mistaken for others, a “wires crossed” phenomenon so to speak.
28 different senses.
That's 378 different lines of communication, and 268,435,454 possibilities of combinations, that can result in a meltdown or sensory overload, if every sense is functioning as intended.
If they’re not? I don’t think I can even do the calculations for that, I even had to go to twitter to ask for help on the initial calculation in the first place.
The senses we have:
Five Basic Senses, or Aristotelian Senses
6. Balance, or Equilibrioception
8. Temperature, or Thermoception
9. Propioception (information on the movement and relative positions of the parts of the body, the ability to sense where parts of your body are in space at all times)
10. Pain, or Nociception
12. Sexual Stimulation
14. Pulmonary Stretching (Breathing Rate)
15. Peripheral Chemoreceptors (Feeling of suffocation if CO2 levels are high)
16. Chemoreceptor Trigger Zone (Induces vomiting when needed or triggered)
17.Cutaneous Receptors in the skin (touch, pressure, vasodilation in the skin aka blushing)
18.Stretch Receptors in Gastrointestinal Tract (Senses gas distension, bloating)
19. Sensory Receptors in Esophagus (Feeling from swallowing, vomiting, or during acid reflux)
20. Sensory Receptors in the Pharynx Mucosa; similar to the ones in the skin (senses foreign objects in pharynx to trigger gag reflex)
21. Sensory Receptors in the Bladder and Rectum (Knowing when you do and do not have to use the restroom)
22. Stretch Sensors that sense dilation of various blood vessels (Example, headache caused by vasodilation of brain arteries)
23. Cardioception (Perception of heart activity)
24. Ultraviolet Radiation Sensing (plays a role in pigmentation and sunburn)
25. Baroreceptors (Relays blood pressure information to the brain to maintain proper “normal” blood pressure
Senses not based on an organ
26. Time, or Chronception (how the passage of time is perceived and experienced)
27. Agency, or Sense of Agency, (The subjective feeling of having chosen a particular action)
28. Familiarity (The feeling that the event was previously experienced, or known)
These are all the things needed to take into consideration when someone is having sensory overload, when an autistic person is having a meltdown.
Autistic people know this, we know it well, even though some of us may not even realize we know it. We can recognize it, we see it, we live it.
So, if someone who is autistic comes to you, and tries to let you know what your child or loved one is going through, maybe at least listen to what we have to say? You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to literally obey us, but at least hear us out. Maybe we DO know something about it, and if you really want to help your loved ones, what do you have to lose from listening to someone who’s lived it and is living it?
We’re not giving you medical advice, we’re giving you suggestions from our lived experiences and what we know from our fellow autistics.
Take what we tell you, bring it to doctors, professionals, if you do not trust us, and ask them about it. We can give you all the information about being autistic you could ever want.
It’s up to you what you do with that information.
(All information taken from Wikipedia’s article on Sense: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense)