From personal experiences, observing friends, family and acquaintances I have concluded that the term fight or flight, a term I use often to describe many situations should have a third addition and that is ‘freeze’.
Personally, while under a sensory attack I would usually say that I hit the fight or flight response, but I have at times frozen. During a sensory attack my reasoning and logical thought is almost non-existent and I have lowered cognitive ability
While I’m frozen anxiety and stress rise, at the same time I am moving toward the fight or flight response, the fight response can lead to an assault on the source of the sensory attack, often in confusion I have turned the fight on myself, maybe I see my bodies receptors as a source of attack on my brain all I know is the pain caused by the injury instantly brings my brain back in touch my body, some control is resumed and then flight can be invoked.
This can be a stressful scary time for all those involved and as soon as the sensory attack has gone a massive feeling of relief washes over me and I’m back in control.
Even the best forward planning does not help when you have lowered cognitive function which you need to remember and use your coping techniques. I have noise cancelling headphones and when a noise is the cause of the sensory attack, I cannot think to use them until I escape the noise.
I think it is important to understand that at times people freeze, they can then eventually move onto fight or flight but sometimes they just stay frozen.