Sensory snapshots

Some recent realizations and snapshots:

As a child, I often had night terrors where I would scream, flail, babble, and sleepwalk.  I’ve had them occasionally as an adult during times of great stress [minus the sleepwalking]. I did a search online and discovered it may be common for children with SPD to have night terrors.  I don’t think there’s been official research on this, but I’ve definitely seen people discuss it in various SPD forums.

In high school, I would often freeze when a teacher called on me, even when I knew the answer.  I wanted to speak more in class on my own terms, but would often get so overwhelmed by the pressure that I ended up staying quiet.  I think this may have had something to do with the amount of internal and external pressure and being “on the spot” with everyone looking at me. I think I may have been feeling overstimulated and shutting down.  I struggled with this in college, too.  Now, it’s much easier for me to speak when someone asks me a question, and I still have moments [again, more likely when I’m under stress] where I find my mind blank and nothing on the tip of my tongue.

Recent pet peeve:  the video ads on pages.  I’ll be reading an article and suddenly there’s sound and moving objects on the screen.  My first reaction is to yelp and close either the a) page or b) laptop, so I somehow don’t think I’m their target market.

Last week, I was at a small bead store looking at crystal beads.  I noticed that the combination of the sparkly beads, the lights, and the ceiling fan made it visually challenging to focus on anything. The salesperson was nice and turned off the fan for me, and understood it was creating a mini-strobe-light effect (which she told her co-worker when she asked).  It occurred to me afterward that I was exposing myself by admitting that the combination of sensory information was affecting me.  I think I’m okay with that.

Before now, I didn’t know I could reserve a book at Barnes & Noble and pick it up at the register.  While I enjoy reading and getting new books, I often find the experience of looking for specific books at that store to be overstimulating.  Walking in, there are gadgets and magazines and best sellers and so much to take in visually that I often have to step back to remember what I came there for.  Since Barnes and Noble here is attached to a large mall, parking also can be challenging so I may walk in already feeling like I’ve been through an ordeal.  However, last Wednesday was much easier – it was the middle of a weekday and it had been drizzling, so traffic was comparatively low.  I did spend some time looking at some of the journals and things, and then I was able to go to the register, ask for my book, and check out.  I’m discovering I have about a twenty-minute tolerance at busy stores before I start  to shut down and wander around aimlessly.  Reserving the book allowed me the time to have some browsing time and leave before I got overwhelmed.

I got a weighted blanket!  I’m so excited!  It’s handmade, which cut the costs a lot once I found someone to make it for me (my sewing skills are very basic).  It’s so soothing and helps with anxiety during the day and sleep at night.  It was definitely worth the investment.

These days, I go in and out of acceptance. I have had sensory processing disorder all of my life, and I’ve only been aware of it fully for roughly five months.  My self-perception has been shifting – my reality hasn’t changed much but my perspective has.  After getting more information about my visual processing challenges on top of everything else, I felt more daunted.   I’ve had days where I’ve felt discouraged and like there was so much in my way, as if signs that said “go slowly” really said “stop.”   I’ve been noticing so much more, sensory-wise, and that doesn’t mean that it’s gotten worse, I’m just more aware.  I am acknowledging my challenges and limitations.  I know how to take care of myself better than ever before.  My preferred mindset is to see it like this:  I am trying to find the best possible quality of life for myself.  It may not meet my own or other people’s expectations.  I can create new and reasonable expectations for myself.  I can cheerlead myself on when I feel discouraged without pushing myself past my limits.  I am continually learning new tools and coping mechanisms.  It’s definitely a process, and I’m making progress.

3 responses to this post.

  1. A few years ago I made an all (front and back) corduroy quilt for my daughter. She even uses it in the summer. The world seems to be more loud and obnoxious as time goes by. DH pointed out the opening of The Big Bang Theory (high energy song, fast flashing pictures) vs. Family Ties (slow song, picture being painted) and these seems to be representative of their time periods. You’re not alone in your sensory journey. Keep your determination and strong heart.


  2. I want a weighted blanket! I think it would really help me with ptsd symptoms. I think anyone who has spd has a lot to overcome. I suppose I do too having did and ptsd. But I’d say its hard living with spd. XX


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