I think I have a problem with sensory overload

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by amethyst, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. amethyst

    amethyst Companion

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    Dec 28, 2013

    I am going into my last semester of student teaching and will graduate in May. I am in a dual cert program to get my Master's and Special Ed cert.

    I do have a mental health related diagnosis already (since I was 15). I am now 34. I realllllly struggle with true exhaustion, irritability, etc. at the end of every day of teaching. I know that is not unusual, especially for a newer teacher. But the extent to which I feel it, knowing myself, really concerns me.

    Since I have been thinking about it a lot lately, I have noticed that I tend to feel the same way other times, when my day has just been too long for me, there has been too much noise (people talking over each other, lots of music, etc.), too much activity, in general. Eventually, I just crash.

    Now, its not a concern for the children or anything like that. I am completely composed in public, always. It's as soon as I leave. It's like I don't even notice until I am away from all of it, and then I just lose my mind! Like, then I realize how much all of that affected me. I am definitely a "Highly Sensitive Person."

    I was just wondering, as experienced special education teachers, if there is any advice you might have for me on how I can cope with this? There is not a lot of info out there for adults, it's mostly all for adults on how to help children. I definitely needed this when I was a child, but I never got that help because no one knew this stuff back then!
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Dec 28, 2013

    I tend to have sensory overload issues. At the end of the day, shutting my door, closing my computer, and taking 15 minutes to read a chapter of a good book usually gets me cooled down a bit.

    Ultimately, it's up to you to know what will get you calmed down.
     
  4. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Dec 28, 2013

    Hugs, Amethyst. Good for you for reaching out for advice. I'm no expert, that's for sure, but I have an idea. What if you took little breaks throughout the day, whether you need them or not. You could go someplace quiet (I have a walk-in closet in my room) and just breathe. Maybe this letting off of steam will help you have some reserve left at the end of the day?

    Best to you!
     
  5. Sped_p1

    Sped_p1 New Member

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    Jan 4, 2014

    Hi Amethyst! I wish I could give you some awesome advice, but basically... well, first, you're not alone. Second, I am sending you good wishes. Third, I don't really know what to do either.

    If you are financially able, it could be really helpful to take a part time job your first year. I'm pretty highly sensitive, and it's been hard for me to do the full school day followed by several more hours of work-- which is what it takes for me to keep up. A "part time" job could give you a chance to learn the ropes and adjust to some of the challenges, with a little more flex time to crash and recharge.

    Don't expect it to just go away. It doesn't.

    But there are things you can do to help yourself. The ideas above-- finding little moments of quiet and calm throughout the day-- are very helpful for me. Also, try making sure you're getting enough to eat, especially healthy, high-protein food.

    Most sensory activities that help my kids calm down also help me. You can't do most of them during the day, but after the kids leave there's nothing wrong with spending a few minutes rolling playdoh, listening to soothing music with your eyes closed, or squeezing a stress ball.

    It sounds like you're pretty knowledgeable about your diagnosis, but if not, it might be helpful to look at medical treatment and/or support groups.

    I really hope things go well for you! I'm offering this advice as suggestions, just in case there's something you haven't thought of... I know you've probably thought of or done most of it already.
     
  6. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    Jan 4, 2014

    At the beginning of the day, I turn the lights low and during plan, I also do so. My lights are so bright (even had a para who got headaches from too bright of lights) that just helps to calm me down!
     
  7. EmptyClassroom

    EmptyClassroom Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2014

    I have sensory issues as well, but know both my triggers and reactions so that helps. My best advice is not to fall into the new-teacher hole of taking on too much! My first few years I devoted every hour at school to kids--I willingly gave up before and after school hours, lunch, planning, even hall duty minutes, to kids. As my symptoms increased I realized they got "better" of me when I didn't given them "more" of me. Take your breaks--duty-free breaks ARE legally required--and decompress, and DON'T feel guilty for doing so!

    And if your symptoms crop up during professional hours--meetings, PD hours, etc.--you can pretend to be engrossed in whatever is acceptable--lesson plans, grading, reading, phone usage, whatever! It helps you decompress in a crowd.
     
  8. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Jan 7, 2014

    Make sure that you are taking care of yourself and that you know your limits. Since June I've really struggled with fatigue.

    Things I have done:

    *learned to say no
    *limit the days I stay late at school
    *limit how many nights I'm out of the house (some weeks that's a hard one)
    *go to bed on time
    *eat well
    *limit the amount of work I take home

    *take time for myself during the day!!! For me this means eating lunch with friends.

    I know most of what I suggested are things to do outside of school, but for me, it helps with my work life. I do try to exercise, but I must be careful with that or it will cause my exhaustion to be even worse.
     
  9. hatima

    hatima Devotee

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    Jan 14, 2014

    I have the same problem of sensory overload, but I rarely find it at work. I do not have a formal diagnoses. I did struggle in school, but I coped well enough the problems never became and issue. Nor did my teachers seem to notice them. I coasted at times and a lot of my learning issues didn't get resolved until college.
    I have a high tolerance for noise in the classroom. I become overwhelmed in places that are crowded like hallways at the end and beginning of the day, stores, and weekends at the mall. I feel like the noises and people will crush me. I just breath deeply and try to remain calm. I have never freaked out, but have came near to freaking out.
    I try to read every night before I sleep, and I mean read just for me. Not for work or prof. growth. Find some good music. The playdough idea is good too. Moonsand and coloring can be fun. I have my niece to thank for those excuses.
     
  10. Nate

    Nate Companion

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    Jan 16, 2014

    I'd make sure you stay on top of your meds w/ your psych, for starters. A new job is a major life change, and may require some adjustments. It does get better, as you get a few routines in place and the rest of the job isn't so overwhelming. I've put on the industrial-strength ear protections muffs my students use in class to get a moment away from all the noise--that and a little deep breathing can de-escalate your situation quite a bit in a few short minutes between.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 16, 2014

    I have some sensory overload issues myself. I believe that they stem from the fact that I am an introvert at heart (and probably fairly anti-social, if I'm being honest). I love my job (most of the time) and I adore my students, but it can still be difficult to be "on" all the time at school, especially when I am most comfortable being by myself.

    For me, it helps to have as much downtime as possible at school and immediately after school. During my prep periods, I stay in my room and lock the door. I don't use my prep periods to socialize with others, because that causes me a lot of mental and emotional exhaustion. I run errands in the office from time to time, of course, but I do it quickly and head back to my room for some peace and quiet. After school, I go home, put on my PJs and chill out with a book or Facebook for an hour or so. I don't really talk to anybody except my dogs and my hoosband, and I prefer it that way. Once I've recharged after school, I can handle talking to people and going out and whatnot, but I really do need that hour to myself.

    In addition, I have a history of depression. I'm not sure what your mental health issue is, but I bet that whatever it is it's playing a part in how you're feeling. When my depression kicks up, I feel it--not always by being sad, but often by being tired, agitated for no obvious reason, and extra hermit-like. I agree with others that you should keep a close eye on your mental state and on how your meds are working; don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about it and ask for an increase or change in your meds, even temporarily. They might help you out more than you realize. For me, increasing my meds (Wellbutrin at the time) completely changed how I was feeling, in a good way. It basically solved all my problems and made me feel like I was back to normal. Meds don't always work that way for everyone, but it probably doesn't hurt to try, especially if you're already medicated and having success with that.

    In addition to all this, I think it's super important to establish and maintain a good work-life balance. Lots of people seem to think that if you work harder it means that you're a better person. That's not true. Work hard, yes, but know your limits and know when to say when. A teacher's job is never done--for every one thing you check off your to-do list, three more things will pop up. Learn to prioritize and manage your responsibilities at school so that you can come home at a reasonable time and enjoy some downtime. You'll likely end up enjoying your life more, which will make you a better teacher.
     
  12. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Jan 16, 2014

    I have sensory issues too. I'd handle it during student teaching by if I had a moment to myself, maybe I was waiting in the hall for the last kid to come out of the bathroom, and my CT had brought the rest of the class back to class, I would just close my eyes for a second and take a deep breath, clench my fists tightly for a second, then release.
     

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