A man stands in a colorful, rainbow-lit hallway with vibrant and fractured light reflections on the floor and walls.

Before we can understand our triggers or suss out the accommodations we need, we have to understand our sensory profiles. Autistic people are not one-size-fits-all. We have different sensory needs. Some senses may be hypersensitive, some hyposensitive, and some a combination: hypersensitive in some ways and hyposensitive in others.

What follows is my own sensory profile. If you’d like to make one of these for yourself, there’s a 31 minute long YouTube video where Thomas Henley walks you through the Sensory Profiling Test:

And here are my notes I made while watching the video. Read on if you’d like to know me better, like to see how I structured my notes, or if you’re just curious about what one autistic person’s sensory profile looks like. (This post is also easier for me to find if I want to look over my notes again.)

I’d recommend writing notes like this out while you’re watching the above video. The first time I watched it I thought I could just hold it in my head: hyper in this category, hypo in that, etc. There is just so much information in Henley’s video that you’ll thank yourself for writing your own details down.

Visual Sensitivity

Related diagnoses: I have Non-24-hour Sleep-wake Syndrome, which has many causes and takes many forms. My particular variety appears to be under sensitivity to the circadian cues of light. I have to treat it with lots of bright light

Hypersensitive: not particularly (with the exception of motion. Things or people moving around a lot is stressful for me.)
Hyposensitive: while I do prefer things to be clean and orderly, clutter doesn’t stress me out unless it’s just in the way or I can’t find something. Objects can be harder for me to see, especially complicated objects. It can take me longer to figure out what a photo is. When I walk into a room it can take a while for my brain to sort out where the people are. My depth perception is very challenged. I have learned ways to figure out how close cars are and how fast they are moving, but if I only depended on my depth perception I’d still have no idea when it’s safe to pull out into traffic. I do enjoy very detailed art, Byzantine and busy.

Auditory Sensitivity

Related diagnoses: Central Auditory Processing Disorder – I have a hard time understanding speech, like a “dyslexia of the ear”. Vestibular Hyperacusis – My brain translates particular sounds (mainly high pitched sounds) into motion, almost like a synesthesia. So things like whistling tea kettles make me sea sick.

Hypersensitive: Loud noises definitely rattle me, especially loud and high pitch. I do enjoy loud music when I choose to play it myself, as Henley mentions. I don’t have the “cocktail effect” — I can’t hear conversation in a room that has a lot of auditory clutter, like a coffee shop or a classroom where the professor has divided us into small discussion groups such that there are always at least three people talking at once in the room.
Hyposensitive: I do enjoy drumming, being in drum circles, making music. I think the hyperacusis has a lot to do with it: for example, I hate being in drum circles with claves and if there are claves I will try to sit as far away from them as possible because they make a high pitched sound striking together that is very painful for me, but the deeper pitch of drums is very satisfying.

Olfactory Sensitivity

Hypersensitive: I am super sensitive to smells. I have had to leave restaurants because the first thing I smelled when I walked in was the trash in the kitchen. I involuntarily step away from people with too much cologne. I feel very nauseated by cigarette smoke but I rarely say anything because I was a smoker for about 20 years and don’t want to come across as judging or shaming smokers.
Hyposensitive: not so much. I do enjoy incense, but wouldn’t like it too concentrated in a closed room.

Gustatory Sensitivity

Note: it really surprised me to realize that I’m hypersensitive to smell but hyposensitive to taste. I’d been taught in school that these two senses are intimately linked, almost two aspects of one sense. My different sensitivities tell me that smell and taste are two very different senses after all.

Hypersensitive: some food textures bother me but food flavors rarely do.
Hyposensitive: I like strong flavors and spices. I used to eat bird food and cat food as a kid. I do eat a lot of samefood, but that’s more because variety just isn’t that interesting to me. I forget to eat sometimes. It’s easier to feed myself if I have standard things I can grab without thinking much. But I am very open to trying all kinds of different foods.

Somatosensory Sensitivity

Hypersensitive: I don’t enjoy a light touch, especially sudden and unexpected light touch. It feels awful and the feeling lingers for a long time. I don’t like brownies with nuts in them because texture. I have become more adventurous with burgers but as a child I just wanted a plain cheeseburger because that sort of melts as you eat it but a lot of the toppings are crunchy and I don’t like to mix crunchy and smooth in my mouth.
Hyposensitive: I have a very high pain threshold. I have a history of self-harm (head and face slapping, mainly) during meltdowns. I have a lot of biting and chewing stims. I love weighted blankets or super tight hugs or being laid on for deep pressure. I touch leaves and walls and railings and such a lot as I walk by. I love swimming and hot tubs and I do enjoy some tight clothing but tend not to wear a lot of tight clothes because of other sensitivities.

I feel I’m similar to what Henley describes: hypersensitive to light touch and hyposensitive to deep pressure. (Mechanosensory variation)

Vestibular Sensitivity

Hypersensitive: not that much (except the visual thing about fast moving things I mentioned above feels vestibular)
Hyposensitive: I have terrible balance. I loved rollercoasters when I was younger but I can’t ride them anymore because of my EDS (I have gotten whiplash too many times from rollercoasters because of my weak collagen). I love travel on bicycle, car, train, boat.

Proprioceptive Sensitivity

Hypersensitive: I sometimes sit in weird positions. I keep some distance from people when walking but it’s because of my vestibular sensitivity: I have terrible balance so I step on and run into people a lot if I walk too close to them.
Hyposensitive: I love chewy and biting a lot. I have TMJ, so it can be problematic, but I would love to chew giant wads of gum all day long if my jaw would allow it. I am super clumsy and bump into people and things all the time. It’s normal for me to find mystery bruises all the time where I bumped into everything and didn’t even notice it. I have to look down a lot as I walk so I don’t trip over things or fall down from being too disoriented.

Stims Recommended for my Hyposensitivities:

Visual: colorful lights, spinning lights, mirrors, kaleidoscopes, brightly colored objects, galaxy lamps, flicking fingers in front of your eyes, satisfying videos, lava lamps.

Gustatory: mints, gum, sour fruits, meals with lots of different flavors, Asian cuisine, flavored water or juice to keep up with hydration, chili powder.

Deep Pressure Somatosensitivity: acupressure rings, fans for thermoregulation, tiger balm, rubber bands to snap on wrist, iced or hot food or drink, head scratchers and back scratchers, fidget stimmers, weighted blankets, tapping, hugs.

Vestibular: trampoline, climbing, gymnastics, head tilting, car trips, sensory swings, wobble cushions.

Proprioceptive: flapping, rocking, gym or sports, stretching or yoga, laying on the floor, balance board or rocking chair at desk, gum and other chewing things, tensing and untensing muscles, pressure related items for massage.


Henley says that stimming with your hyposensitive senses will help you stay regulated while stimming with your hypersensitive senses can bring you sensory joy. He promises to talk more about hypersensitivities in the next video (this video is part one of a three-part series.)

I hope seeing me go through my own sensory profile has been helpful for you in some way. Make your own notes about your sensory profile and see where in your life you are already doing things that regulate you and where you might want to add some sensory stimulation for your hyposensitivities.