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About Dr. Misty

Dr. Misty Gibson earned her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision in 2020 (yeah, THAT year). This milestone fueled her dream of teaching, mentoring, and supervising counselors-in-training with a neurodivergent-affirming approach. When she's not shaping future therapists at Antioch University Seattle or The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, she's running her vibrant group practice, FlowArt Therapy.

At FlowArt Therapy, we focus on supporting the mental health needs of neurodivergent and queer folx. And guess what? Dr. Misty is also an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist! She’s passionate about working with people in open relationships, polyamorous networks, and the BDSM community. Dr. Misty is all about breaking boundaries and celebrating diversity in every form. 🌟

About Michell

Michell Brockman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Washington state, who earned her Master’s in Clinical Counseling in 2022. As a neurodivergent human herself, Michell gets the struggles of navigating a world with neuronormative expectations.

Working alongside Dr. Misty at FlowArt Therapy, Michell is passionate about supporting neurodivergent adults, the LGBTQIA community, kink and BDSM enthusiasts, and those in polyamorous and ENM relationships. A trauma-informed therapist, she loves using EMDR, parts work, and somatic body-focused therapies to help her clients thrive.

Michell always dreamed of being a therapist (and an artist), and now she’s both! Constantly learning and creating, Michell loves sharing her knowledge and unique perspective with the world. 🌟

It all started with an inquiry—Michell reached out to FlowArt Therapy for a clinical internship, when Dr. Misty was just a lone sole provider, and the magic began! Under Dr. Misty's supervision, Michell thrived through her internship and associate licensing, and now, they work side by side as colleagues and professional partners throughout all of FlowArt. With a shared passion for advocating and raising awareness about the awesomeness of being neurodivergent and queer, they’ve grown the FlowArt community from FlowArt Therapy to include FlowArt Academy, and their quirky podcast, Neurosparkly. Together, they're enhancing our world to learn, accept, and support neurodivergent humans through knowledge, courses, and general fun!

At FlowArt, we’re expanding beyond therapy to bring you awesome courses, a fabulous newsletter, and our super fun podcast. Why? Because we want to support neurodivergent folx everywhere—not just in Washington state! Our mission is to build a vibrant community of support, awareness, and inclusion that spans states and countries, connecting people who might never have met otherwise.

As neurodivergent individuals ourselves, we know how tough it can be to make close connections. That’s why we’re creating a space where you can show up as your most authentic self. We want to know you, and we want you to know us. Let’s make this community sparkle together! 🌟

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Therapist Rye's Personal Experiences with Sensory Overload

June 14, 20244 min read

This article was written by FlowArt Therapy's Rye Flood, who specializes in working from a sex-positive lens with individuals, couples, polycules, and other relationship styles. Rye is currently welcoming new clients at our practice.


Hi All!

To start, I want to clearly say humans experience their sensory overload in an extremely wide variety of ways. I write this with the hopes that there may be some folx that recognize their own experience in mine but know that my experience is just that—one singular experience of a neurodivergent human that has trouble with sensory processing.

So what might sensory overload look like? For me, it’s when the lights start to look way too bright. The sounds around me simultaneously become impossible to understand and impossible to tune out. Every little (or big) noise out of my control becomes irritating, like an itch you can’t scratch, and my skin becomes hyper-sensitive to the point that certain clothes will make me feel unbearably uncomfortable even if they were fine before. I start to notice each and every spot where fabric touches my skin, what the texture is like, how much it’s constricting my body, and how the layers of clothes restrict my movement. Smells start to feel nauseating, particularly those from cooking, and most food becomes too sickening to even consider eating. Even the taste of water might start to be too much. When I’m having a rough sensory day, each of my five core senses are turned up to eleven, with every stimulus tuned to the same level. My brain becomes unable to prioritize what to tune out and what to pay attention to, and my body feels bombarded by the environment around me. It’s incredibly uncomfortable to say the least.

Once I recognized that my experience was sensory overload (from hearing other people talk about their experiences like this! ), I began to try and pay closer attention to my body and my thoughts. For me, sound and touch are typically the first senses to be impacted, so I try to notice: am I starting to get irrationally angry or annoyed at that person tapping their pen or talking to their friends? Has the sound of the refrigerator or electronics started to get louder? Do the cuffs of my sweatshirt feel too tight or the collar feel like it’s constricting my neck?

From there, I check in on my base needs: do I need to drink more water? (almost always yes). When did I last eat? Have I moved around in the last four hours, or have I been hyperfocused on my latest source of excitement? Is there anything I can do to reduce the amount of stimulus I’m experiencing (move away from noise or food smells, reduce lighting, change clothes, put in my earplugs, and so on)? What sensory stimulus can I control? The earlier I notice and the sooner I start tending to my base need or implementing accommodations, the sooner I can rebalance my sensory experience.

Over time, I’ve built out an array of ways that I tend to myself, both in and outside of sensory overload. Here’s some examples from my list that might help spark ideas for the folx out there that resonate in some way with my experience or the experience of sensory processing disorder:

  • Reducing the backlight on the TV or my computer, and adjusting it often.

  • Taking a step outside when overwhelmed, especially if the air is cool and the noise is lower than the environment inside.

  • Taking some time at home to lay down in a darkened room with low noise, surrounded by soft things and (ideally) my cat.

  • Being open with my partner about my overload and adjusting plans accordingly.

  • Keeping my hair short so it can’t brush against my neck or face.

  • Swaying my body or touching a grounding object as feels good.

  • Identifying and keeping my pantry stocked with my current safe foods (foods that consistently tend to be okay to eat even when nauseous or overwhelmed).

  • Using subtitles for shows or movies so I don’t just rely on my hearing.

  • Wearing soft and loose clothing, especially on days where I’ll be expending a lot of spoons.

  • Building downtime into my schedule after events or high energy days.

  • Setting reminder alarms on my watch for food, water, and medications.

  • And always having a kit of items on hand that helps my sensory experience. This kit includes:

    • A cup of filtered water

    • A small snack

    • Medications, including those for pain

    • Chapstick (for touch and smell)

    • Lotion (for touch and smell)

    • Sweet mint gum (for taste and smell, especially if nauseous)

    • Loops earplugs (for noise)

    • And sunglasses (sight)

That’s all I have for today, but I’d love to hear from you all! Check out our interactive questionnaire below where you can tell me more about:

  • What sort of accommodations or ways of being have you built into your life to manage your sensory experience?

  • Are there specific items you keep with you?

  • What’s your kit look like?

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Rye Flood, Clinical Intern/MA program

Intern in Couples and Family Therapy, FlowArt Therapy

[email protected]

Focus on Sex-Positive, Somatically-Based Therapy for all humans

sensorysensory experiencesensory overloadrye
blog author image

Rye Flood

Rye Flood is an intern therapist at FlowArt Therapy and focuses their work from a sex-positive, somatically-based theory, working with all humans.

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