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What I Want You to Know About My Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder

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As a young adult who lives with autism and sensory processing disorder (SPD), there are so many things I wish you knew.

Do you know what it’s like to feel a sense of calm and safeness when wrapped in your blanket or when it’s draped over you?

Did you know I find the sound of the fan blowing at night and the feel of the air blowing on me to be calming?

Do you know the sense of calm and relief my body gets when a sensory tool such as my SnugVest, Spio Shirt, headphones, weighted blanket, fidget or chewie helps it calm down?

Do you know what it’s like to feel a sudden sense of overload and overwhelm all at once?

I do.

It happened to me just yesterday.

I was with one of my support staff riding in the car back from the store. I could tell I was getting a little edgy in the store towards the end, but I was still OK. I started feeling more agitated as we were driving along. I could feel it building. My iPad — which I use when getting words out and putting thoughts into words is hard — was back at the clinic along with most of my sensory tools. Luckily, it’s not a far drive. I told my support staff who was driving, “I don’t like the sound of the cars.” This is something that had never bothered me before. I even had my own window down earlier. She rolled up her barely down window after asking me if that would help, and I said yes. After she did this, she asked if it was better. I said yes, but that I could still hear the cars. We arrived back at the therapy clinic, with me still edgy to a point. Two other noises that I usually don’t even notice bothered me. I don’t know why. I had a long day. Maybe I was tired. Maybe something set me off.

As hard as it is to share this, I feel it needs to be said because I want to give you an example of how real sensory differences and SPD can be. Just because you cannot see them doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Just because it may come on suddenly, just because I may struggle to communicate it, doesn’t make it any less real. This can be my world, my reality at times. But I can learn to cope. I can learn to use tools and supports that help me.

Remember, anything is possible.

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Thinkstock image by MarijaRadovic

Originally published: March 7, 2017
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