Hi and Welcome to 2009.
There was a great article on Sensory Overload posted yesterday that I feel I need to draw your attention to;
The Post in Question is;
Sensory overload: An insider’s perspective
and the Blog itself is called Asperger Journeys.
I'd highly recommend it.
This post says a lot about sensory overload that I hadn't really given much thought to. For instance, the words Sensory Overload had always triggered the notion of "shutdown" in me.
Since I very rarely experience shutdown, my natural extreme reaction is generally meltdown, I figured that I didn't experience Sensory Overload. From the description in this article however, I'm beginning to wonder if I do. Perhaps it doesn't have to reach boiling point before it's called an overload.
Certainly, I often find myself in a crowded place with my skin tingling and my head racing like I've got a fever. In those environments, a touch is extremely irritating and uncomfortable. Surprisingly, even loud (and sometimes soft) noises affect me - and don't forget, I'm deaf.
I can only ignore these feelings for a short while before I need to get outside alone - or somewhere equally isolated in order to calm down.
Another really familiar thing about this post is the notion of mental blanking. I find that this happens to me too during periods of "sensory overload". We watched a DVD last night which was defective and in one part, the conversation was stilted (people were talking in part words wh..iii...ch m.a..de it.. al...m..o..s.....t impos...ib..le to follow).
That's sort of how my thoughts become in an overstimulated environment. I can't even follow one conversation, let alone the multiple ones in the room. Funnily enough, I don't have this problem in meetings, only at unstructured gatherings like parties and (sometimes) during shopping.