I wanted to know if there were any reoccurring themes from first time experiences, so asked people what ages they were when they noticed the phenomena, what triggered the sensation and how ASMR made them feel at the time.
Here are some of the replies I received:
Rachel Baumer (via email):
“I first noticed I had a weird ‘fetish’ when my teacher would type at her desk in 5th grade. My body would just be in this relaxed state and I could barely concentrate because I had to try so hard to not fall asleep. It would happen when she wrote on the chalkboard as well. I asked some friends and family about it, and they all just looked at me like I was crazy and told me I was an odd one.
“Years later, after I had my first child at 19, I was having a lot of trouble falling asleep, so I got on YouTube and looked up typing and there were so many typing videos with ASMR next to them. I looked up ASMR and realized this wasn’t a ‘weird fetish’, and that I was completely normal, and that a lot of people have sounds that put them right to sleep and relax them! I was so relieved and have been obsessed with ASMR research ever since.”
Jacob Slaton (via email):
“In 4th grade, we had an art teacher that would come to our class a couple times a week, and since she was not our everyday teacher, she had to take roll at the start of her art class. She was a very pleasant, calm, and soft-spoken teacher…
“…she would go up to the front of the class with her clipboard and she would read the name silently, and then look around the class to find the student, and when she found him with her eyes, she would just smile and put a checkmark by his name on the list… It was totally mesmerizing.”
Alex Harnack (via email):
“I was in third grade and I sat across from this girl, and every morning we did math and she used these small tiles to help her with subtraction problems, and she whispered while she counted them. Ever since then things like watching people write, listening to typing or chewing all set me off.
“I looked and listened for anything in all of my classes, even now that I’m in college. All of it is sound based except the writing one. Dunno why, but the way some people write is just so intriguing to me and gives my ears great tingles.
“At first I never talked to anyone about it. I just thought it was some weird thing that happened to me. It wasn’t until December that I found an article talking about ASMR and without knowing anything about it, read it and discovered that that’s what was happening to me. Now I spend at least an hour a day dedicated to watching ASMR YouTube videos. It’s great.”
I was in first grade. Spelling test. I put my ear to the table and listened to other kids’ pencils gliding across paper. /@jkoyanagi
First grade we use to have story time and my teacher would always suck on a hard candy or cough drop. It was the best feeling! /@MakesMeYawn13
age 6/7 staying at a friends their mum played solitaire while we fell asleep, cards shuffling etc still gives me tingles /@0Mittens0
Miss Ramsbottom (yep) quietly ticking off kids on the register. tried recreating it with sis then 4. she never did it right. /@TheTerrence
From the replies I received many people’s first ASMR experiences were from teachers taking the register/roll in primary/elementary school; either the soft-spoken voices of the teacher, or the sound of the pencil and paper, or both.
Other common triggers were from hearing and seeing people whispering, chewing, typing and writing.
Perhaps unsurprisingly most of the contributors experienced ASMR when they were very young; around infant/primary/elementary school age. And often felt that they couldn’t talk to anyone about it, or if they did they were met with disbelief.
A lot of individuals share their joy of discovering there is a term for this unique feeling, and a feeling of relief that they are not alone as countless other people around the world experience ASMR.
This can be attributed to the work of ASMR Research & Support for coining the term and researching the phenomenon over the last few years; uniting people around the world with a name for the experience.
Having a name for it undoubtedly led to a number of recent articles written about the subject from The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog and an academic clinical neurologist’s blog. Also the hugely popular ASMR section of the social news site reddit.
And thanks to the thousands of videos on YouTube labelled ASMR which now cover almost every imaginable ASMR trigger - from role play eye examination videos to audio of eating sweets/candy - people can induce the same tingles they have felt since a child, in addition to feeling united in the sensation with others.
And a special thanks to the work of ASMR Research & Support.
(I will continue to write ASMR related blogs, so keep an eye out for questions I post on Twitter and get involved if you’d like to share your thoughts and experiences.)