Posts Tagged ‘SPD’

Friday link roundup 8/4

From Rachel Schneider: On being a new parent with sensory processing disorder.

From Jessica Valenti: On being “matronly” and one-piece bathing suits.

Photographer and artist Cindy Sherman just made her Instagram account public.

Want to know more about the solar eclipse coming up later this month? So much interesting information here.


An ideal sensory-friendly community

Someone asked recently on the Facebook SPD Adult Support Group: What would be your ideal sensory-friendly community?

My response:

My sensory friendly community would be a quiet place in the mountains. There would be hammocks in the trees and several outdoor trampolines. There would be a sensory tools gym that includes trampolines, cushions, various toys, and also space to move. There would be private rooms in the gym for people who wanted space to move by themselves or in a small group. There would be a large pool and several hot tubs. There would be a community garden, set off to the side, that would have flowers, herbs, and vegetables, and next to it, a fruit tree orchard. Any requests for quiet would be honored, there would be specific spaces for music to be played or heard at a reasonable volume (and would be sound-proofed so the sound wouldn’t carry beyond the room), and otherwise people would wear headphones. There would be a quiet coffeehouse, too. And a grocery store nearby with decent, non-fluorescent lighting.

I could definitely continue to elaborate with this description. What would your ideal community be like, sensory-friendly or otherwise?

Friday link roundup 6/17

stand here

Quote/artwork from Brian Andreas of Story People


On gay bars as sanctuaries.

A mother’s letter to her LGBTQ Latino son after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando.

LGBTQ Muslims speak out against the attack, homophobia, and Islamaphobia.

On property, and creating spaces (such as gardens) for the greater community.

“The harder you work, the less you will feel.” Life lessons learned from a Tai Chi class.

A new article on Sensory Processing Disorder.


Approaches to change

I went to a college where I took a new class every 3 1/2 weeks.

I did a traveling study abroad program where we traveled to a new city and country roughly every two weeks.

After college, I did an AmeriCorps program where I worked on a team and changed projects (and locations, including places in the Northeast and the Gulf Coast) every 6-8 weeks.  In 10 months, I spent time in 5+ locations.

From ages 28-31, I lived in a communal home where regularly switching rooms – without much choice in the matter – was commonplace.  A lot of the activities in the house – which were based on a specific recovery and leadership model – reinforced accepting change, transitions, and transformation.

All these situations involved consistent change.

Somewhere along the way, I think I adopted the philosophy that adapting to situations would help me build resilience.  I chose activities and programs that I believed would help my personal growth.  When I first heard about my first AmeriCorps program, the representative at the job fair made the comment, “You have to learn to be flexible.”  I don’t know if I really took this in, or perhaps I believed that the program would help me grow and learn to adapt.  I do think that for some people, approaching situations this way might help increase their capacity to adapt and be flexible.  I think this is less true for me.

Two weeks ago, I sat in my occupational therapist’s new office with a weighted blanket on my lap, taking a few minutes to allow my nervous system to recover from the unfamiliar drive.  It was my first time driving to the area by myself.  My OT said she wanted to acknowledge how much effort and energy it had taken for me to get there – that doing something new and different is generally more challenging for people with sensory issues.

Looking back, I realize that transitions have generally been difficult for me, even from one activity to another, let alone a major life change.  I don’t ease into something new.  It takes time.  I realize now that I have more sensory tools, it takes conscious effort to self-regulate and adapt on my own terms.

I did all those things that involved so much change and newness, and in many cases, I thought it was in my best interest.  And while I can certainly say I learned from my experiences and have some positive take aways, there’s another part of me that’s like, damn, that was exhausting.  Those experiences definitely took an energetic toll on my nervous system.

Now, I know to prepare myself for change, to allow myself to go more slowly, and I’m more accepting when I feel drained after doing a new activity.

Now, I’m learning the street layouts of a new city before I move there in the fall; last week I spent time there with my fiancé so I can get acquainted with what our life there might be like.  I realize there’s a balance in not over-anticipating how this upcoming large shift in my life may unfold, but I can take steps.

I recognize that change is a part of life.  I don’t need to condemn or criticize myself for how I react to it.  When I consciously release any judgment on how I approach change, and keep sensory factors in mind, perhaps I’ll transition a little easier next time.

Vision therapy update: Brain rewiring in progress

My occupational therapist gives me new vision therapy exercises each week.  For the past six weeks, I have been playing with:

  • Switching from looking from near to far using an eye chart
  • Bunting a ball (that hangs from a string) in several different directions
  • Tracking – following my clasped fingers with my eyes – right to left, up to down, diagonals, around in a circle
  • Working with peripheral vision

…and more.

ball with string

This ball on a string is hanging on a hook above my closest.  I’ve done catch and release exercises, and am currently doing exercises where I bunt it with this stick.

My OT usually assigns me around 3 exercises a week, and I have to do them 5 times a week.  The exercises are short but stimulating, and take around 15 minutes total.  Sometimes I do them consecutively, and other times I scatter them through a day.


With this exercise, I focus my eyes on the X and find the other letters with my peripheral vision by pointing to them with a stick.  Also, I do this with a patch on one eye, and then switch. 

What I’ve noticed:  I’ve realized that I often am unaware of where my eyes are pointing.  Or that I overshoot, like my eyes will go up and then down to focus on the desired object; I miss and then quickly locate.

When I’m following something with my eyes, I sometimes skip over something.  I generally can find my place again, but it’s almost as though for a split second I don’t know where I’ve been. I’m not sure exactly what indicates, but it’s somewhat unsettling.

Overall, I know I’m compensating a lot.  I could be consistently (constantly?) losing and finding my place.  Think of this like in reading a book:  You forget where you left off in a paragraph and have to find it again before you resume.  Apply that idea to anything you need to watch or follow with your eyes.  As I go through these exercises, I feel like I’m more clearly defining where I am in space and and discovering where everything else is in relation to me.

I’m gaining more awareness.  I can feel my eyes and the muscles around them move more distinctly.  When I was drawing a circle, I noticed that small space out.  I know that when I move my fingers towards my face, my eyes are supposed to go inward, and I’m more conscious of what that feels like:  a small pull of eye muscles, a bringing together.

My OT and I are trying to approach these exercises in an integrative way in order to incorporate more of my senses. This hopefully will also allow for my vestibular system to catch up, since sometimes I react with delayed dizziness after an exercise and I have to wait for it to subside.

As we approach the vision therapy exercises, we’re incorporating exercises that may help me with integrating reflexes. In short, reflexes are  muscular and physiological responses to stimulation.  Infant reflexes are supposed to be integrated in the early months of life, and if not, they can potentially cause problems in development.  I didn’t integrate at least one, which could be a huge contributing factor to my sensory issues. The main one I’ve retained is called the Moro reflex, the infantile startle reflex.  This reflex didn’t evolve when I was little, so I startle more easily than the average adult.  At its extreme, I will jump back and put my hands up by my chest, as if to protect myself. A range of noises, interruptions, or situations can activate it. I startle on a regular basis – at least once, if not several times a day.  I’m learning to recognize more of how it feels when my body tenses and braces itself for an impact or effect that rarely comes, the quick intake of breath, my heart beating faster in anticipation.  I’m also learning how to settle myself afterwards:  take a deep breath, make physical adjustments as needed, have compassion and acknowledge what happened, and pause before deciding what I need to do next.

I breathe a sigh of relief when my OT tells me that I’m doing well on an exercise.  Effort and repetition does equal improvement, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I move smoothly and easily through each exercise.  My eyes and my brain are literally accustomed to seeing and approaching things a certain way.  I’m used to compensating and making constant adjustments; these exercises take more conscious control and focus.  I do stumble and struggle at times. Sometimes I have to repeat an exercise for multiple weeks.

Side effects:   At first, the muscles around my eyes were sore, but now they’re feeling better.  I’ve been tiring more easily.  My short term memory recall was a bit wonky for the first few weeks.  It reminded me a bit of doing a language immersion:  When I was in Costa Rica learning Spanish, there was a point where it was challenging for my brain to reach for words in any language, as though I was caught between English and Spanish in a near blank.  Recently, I would sometimes reach for a word or try to recall if I’ve done something, and struggled with remembering.  This is like a new language to me, a new way of seeing and thinking.

On Thursday, when I was struggling with coordinating the stick/staff to successfully hit the hanging ball so that it went in half circles, I told my OT that I felt like I was eight years old. It was a little like being in P.E. and my limbs weren’t doing what they were supposed to.  With demonstration, experimentation, and effort, I got it.  However, it still reminded me that activities related to coordination haven’t always come naturally to me.

Perfectionism doesn’t really have a place here; acceptance certainly does.  I hold onto patience.  I learn, and keep the hope that vision therapy help me in the long run.

There are many other things I want to do, and this is taking up a lot of energy.  As I’ve begun this process, working on my art and jewelry has been pushed somewhat to the side.  I’m working on wedding planning in small bursts.  It sometimes takes me awhile to respond to e-mails.  I feel more overwhelmed and tired at times, and that makes it challenging to consistently keep up with everything.  I just had the thought:  I could put up an auto-response that says, “Brain rewiring in progress.  I’ll get back to you soon.”

Friday link roundup 2/19


I found this on Facebook and it resonated with me.


Unapologetic Body Love:  A Nia teacher shares a body-positive story and message on Rebelle Society.

Why aren’t there more treatments for menstrual pain and other related symptoms? This article addresses the stigma and lack of research.

St. Louis native and poet uses her words as activism to address issues such as racism, personal and community healing, and love.

Today is a Day of Remembrance: on this date in 1942, the U.S. government gave the order to put Japanese-Americans in internment camps during World War II.

The New York City Ballet held dance workshops for children with disabilities. The video about the process is definitely worth watching.

My hometown, Albuquerque, is hosting Women and Creativity events next month. As part of it, they are inviting people to make art and poetry trading cards to exchange with other participants. You don’t have to be local to join! Go here for more information and to sign up (sign up deadlines are in early March).

Susan Cain, author of Quiet – the bestselling book about the power of introverts – discusses the new book she wrote as a guide for introverted kids and teens, and how it may also benefit educators and parents.

SPD advocate Rachel Schneider released her first book this week! Making Sense is a guidebook for people with sensory issues and their loved ones. Check it out!

Friday link roundup 1/29

Study of Holocaust survivors indicates that trauma can be passed on genetically.

Anne Frank’s stepsister talks about the current refugee crisis.

From last year:  a mother’s letter to her transgender son, Jacob, on his 5th birthday.

On dance and neuroplasticity.

A family incorporates movement into all aspects of their lives by removing or modifying  furniture, setting up a jungle gym in the living room, and more.

An 11 year old girl from New Jersey decided she was sick of reading stories about “white boys and dogs.”  She is now holding a book drive to get 1000 books with black female protagonists by February 1.

Lego creates a toy figure in a wheelchair.

Michael Moore’s letter on ways to help the people of Flint, Michigan.

I definitely would have appreciated this as a teenager:  the first ever BroadwayCon.

A documentary film about an eagle huntress from Mongolia is making waves at the Sundance Film Festival.

New research study finds brain’s wiring is connected to Sensory Processing Disorder.

An excellent article on what “neurotypical” means – and what it doesn’t.