Sensory overload happens when too much sensory stimulus is occurring at once — it can be triggered by a crowded room, a TV turned up too loud, strong aromas, fluorescent lighting and much more. It’s often associated with certain diagnoses like autism, sensory processing disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and post-traumatic stress disorder, although anyone can experience it.
Music is not always a reliever to sensory overload — in fact, sometimes it can make it worse, so you should ask your loved one on the spectrum if playing a song helps or hurts. But for a lot of people with autism, music works wonders when they are trying to calm themselves down. We asked our readers on the spectrum who use music as a tool to share what songs they play if they’re experiencing sensory overload or melting down. We’ve dropped a Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post if you’d like these songs in one place.
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
Someday I’ll wish upon a star / Wake up where the clouds are far behind me / Where trouble melts like lemon drops / High above the chimney top / That’s where you’ll find me
“Ride” by twenty one pilots
Oh, oh, I’m falling, so I’m taking my time on my ride / Oh, I’m falling, so I’m taking my time on my ride
“What I Am” by Will.i.am on “Sesame Street”
If what I am is what’s in me / Then I’ll stay strong, that’s who I’ll be / And I will always be the best / “me” that I can be.
“You Are My Sunshine” by Johnny Cash & June Carter
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine / You make me happy when skies are gray
“Gravity” Sara Bareilles cover by Alex & Sierra
Set me free, leave me be. / I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.
“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun / And I say it’s all right
“Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven
“I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons
Now I’ll be bold / As well as strong / And use my head alongside my heart
“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift
But I keep cruising / Can’t stop, won’t stop moving / It’s like I got this music / In my mind / Saying, “It’s gonna be all right.”
“Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve
But I’m a million different people / from one day to the next / I can’t change my mold
“Amber” by 311
Don’t give up your independence / Unless it feels all right / Nothing good comes easily / Sometimes you’ve got to fight
“Count On Me” by Bruno Mars
You can count on me like one two three / I’ll be there
“Ho Hey” by The Lumineers
I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart
“Bliss” by Muse
Everything about you resonates happiness / Now I won’t settle for less
“Shackles (Praise You)” by Mary Mary
Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance / I just wanna praise you
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of the Bay” by Otis Redding
Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun / I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes
“Thank You For Being A Friend” from “The Golden Girls” performed by Cynthia Fee
Thank you for being a friend / Traveled down the road and back again / Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant
“Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley
You have made / My life complete / And I love you so
“Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
Did you ever know that you’re my hero, / And everything I would like to be? / I can fly higher than an eagle, / For you are the wind beneath my wings.
“Hallelujah” by Panic! At The Disco
And if you can’t stop shaking, lean back / Let it move right through ya
“Shut Up and Dance” by WALK THE MOON
I said you’re holding back / She said shut up and dance with me
What would you add? Let us know in the comments below?