Sensory Processing Disorder

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Sensory Processing Disorder
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    Community Voices

    I had a TMS consult today. Will be starting it in August for OCD! And off label C-PTSD as those two disorders are very intertwined for me. I did it for OCD and bipolar depression last year with success. So here’s to hoping it helps again!!

    #MentalHealth #Disability #Anxiety #Autism #ADHD #BipolarDisorder #LearningDisabilities #TicDisorders #AnorexiaNervosa #SensoryProcessingDisorder #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Dermatillomania #GenderDysphoria

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    Heather Cook

    3 Reasons Sensory Processing Challenges Contribute to Social Struggles

    Social stuff and sensory stuff might seem like two unrelated topics, but in my experience, they’re more closely linked than they’re usually given credit for. In all fairness, it might seem strange to start with noticing sensations in your body if your goal is to make friends. Or to identify the extent of your own sensory differences if you’re trying to understand, or become more comfortable with, school or work social dynamics. But it can make a difference. Here are three big reasons to start working on sensory stuff if you want to get more comfortable socially. 1. Sensory processing struggles take a lot out of you. When your energy is being used up dealing with your sensory needs, you don’t have any left to be pleasant to potential friends. Imagine you get home at the end of a long and exhausting day, you didn’t get enough to eat, you have a headache, the dog won’t stop barking, someone burnt toast so now you have that smell to deal with, and you only want five minutes of peace except a little kid is happily singing at the top of their high-pitched lungs. You’re probably not going to have the energy to roll with it or politely redirect them to a quieter activity. You’re not going to be your best self. Now imagine that day is every day. Because of the second reason. 2. Your sensory stuff is probably affecting you more than you realize. Which you can only find out if you start actively paying attention to how your body feels. How your body feels is something that most of us on the spectrum, and with other sensory differences, often learn to ignore as children. Which makes complete sense. If you’re constantly being hurt by something, and have no idea what to do about it, and the people around you don’t know what to do about it, your options are either to suffer or numb your feelings. Many people unconsciously default to numbing, at least to some degree, so you may not even know how much sensory stuff is affecting you, or alternately, how useful it can be. This brings me to reason three. 3. Your body has a wealth of knowledge, but you can’t tap into it until you practice using it. Our senses take in approximately 11 million bits of information per second. That’s a vast quantity of data that is being processed by different parts of your body, and that you’ve been collecting for years, decades, your entire life. However, we can only consciously process roughly 50 to 120 bits of information per second. That’s millions less than what we are taking in! Your body has been gathering and storing that information away, categorizing it and making sense out of patterns, and yet only a tiny bit of it is available to your conscious awareness. You can access the rest, but only if you get in touch with how your body feels at any given moment. For most people, this comes across as a gut feeling, a hunch, or intuition, and a lot of times that intuition turns out to be pretty accurate. Not always — the system isn’t perfect — but it’s trainable. You can learn to use this consciously and integrate it with the data in your conscious awareness, and when the two systems work together, accuracy goes way up. With experience, you can use this system to help you make decisions about things like, is this person being nice to be manipulative or will they be a good friend to me? Are they teasing me playfully or to be mean? Is this person someone I should avoid? Is this a bad situation for me? Some people, like those of us on the autism spectrum, HSPs, trauma survivors, and plenty of others, tend to be either overly trusting or overly skeptical, either getting ourselves into bad situations or avoiding every possible situation. Neither extreme is particularly helpful, and using an integrated body-mind approach is a great way to balance the extreme reactions that come from using only our minds to make judgments. I hope this helps as a brief overview of what sensory stuff has to do with making friends. What do you think?

    Katie Louise

    How to Manage Sensory Processing Disorder

    As an autistic person, sensory processing disorder, or SPD for short, is a big part of my daily life. What Is Sensory Processing Disorder? Sensory processing disorder means that your senses don’t work in the same way that other people’s do, and it can be distressing. We have seven senses: sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing, vestibular, and proprioception. While you may be familiar with the first five, not many people know about vestibular and proprioception senses. Your vestibular sense helps your body understand where it physically is in the world. It helps you hit a ball with a bat, stand a polite distance away from someone in an elevator, and know how much pressure you need to break an egg. Proprioception lets you know what’s going on inside your body. Are you hungry or too full? Maybe you feel sleepy, or have had too much coffee. Sensory processing disorder means that you may have senses that are too sensitive (hypersensitive) or under-sensitive (hyposensitive). Everyone experiences their senses at different sensitivities. But for people with SPD, their sensory perception of the world can cause daily issues. What Sensory Processing Disorder Looks Like for Me I love singing and dancing to loud music, but I can’t cope with complex sounds, such as in a cafe where there is a mixture of talking, chairs scraping across floors, banging coffee tampers, and screeching milk steamers. I can’t put all this information into one general cafe background noise like neurotypical people can, I hear all the sounds individually and can’t push them to the back of my mind. This can be great if I’m in nature — I can pick up on the leaves blowing in the wind, birds singing, and waterfalls flowing in a really vivid way. I love to be bear-hugged and get deep pressure massage, but I can’t stand being tapped on the arm when someone is chatting with me or given a light “polite” hug. I also only like to be hugged by people who are bigger than me! (Sitting next to them is really great too.) I love aromatherapy and natural smells, but I can’t bear deodorant being sprayed in a room, pollution on the street, or worst of all — air freshener. Throw in not being able to sleep without medication because I never feel sleepy, having to set reminders to eat because I never feel hungry, and not being sure if I really need to pee or just need to pee a bit (which means I go to the bathroom about five times a night — just in case) and you can see how living with SPD affects pretty much every part of every day. Getting overstimulated looks like: Being exposed to too much loud noise, bad smells, and bright lights makes me feel overstimulated. Which essentially, means that I’m stressed. I get tetchy, short-tempered, and close to an autistic meltdown or shutdown. I’m lucky that a busy shopping center won’t push me to a meltdown, but for some autistic people — it will. It might be hard for neurotypical people to understand how a bad sensory experience can push someone towards extreme psychological stress. But remember that neurotypical people have a different sensory profile. Still, things that are bad for their sensory profile can push them over the edge too. Think about stories we’ve heard of how prisoners of war are tortured — drips on their forehead, loud songs on repeat, being held in prisons with no light or darkness without any room to move around. These are sensory tortures, and people with sensory processing disorder experience those tortures everywhere. The more overstimulated I get, the more sensitive I am to sensory triggers. Being understimulated looks like: I feel like I’m unreal, like a character in a video game. I feel sick and grotty, as if I’ve been in a car for hours. I start to wonder if I am in a simulation, and whether I exist at all. I feel out of touch with myself and my body and my emotions. How I Manage Sensory Processing Disorder Living beautifully with sensory processing disorder means avoiding negative sensory triggers wherever I can, and adding sensory glimmers (wonderful things) wherever I can. Avoiding sensory triggers The problem with avoiding triggers is that a lot of neurotypical people don’t want to live without things that make SPD really hard — like hand dryers or spraying foot powder all over their feet in the changing room at the pool. Whenever I’ve asked neurotypical people to wait to use the hand dryer for a second until I get my autistic 5-year-old out of the bathroom, I’ve never had a positive reaction. Avoiding triggers makes me look weird. I don’t like my food to touch, and I insist on it no matter how much my husband doesn’t get it. Refusing to go to friends’ houses because they might have a cat litter tray, or use air freshener makes me look rude, but it’s really important that I minimize my exposure to bad sensory things so that I have enough energy for when I have to attend something that is in a triggering place — like a soft play center for a kids birthday, or when I need to go to the supermarket. Adding sensory glimmers Adding glimmers to my life wherever I can helps me to reduce the grotty feeling that being understimulated gives me. My level of self-care is on goddess levels just to help me through the day, and yes, it does make me come across as quite princessy to others. I stim by drinking lots of herbal tea and fresh water. I go for long walks in the countryside alone, wearing barefoot walking shoes so I can feel connected to the earth. I lift weights in the gym regularly and love the soreness I get in my muscles the next day. I swim. I sit in the sauna and steam room a few times a week. I go for deep pressure massages. I do yoga. I have many lotions, potions, and aromatherapy oils. I stroke fluffy toys and wear fluffy socks. I eat a lot of candy too! Making sure I’m stimming in a positive way helps me to avoid negative stims like biting my mouth. I need time to stim daily. This is a lifestyle that would be good for everybody I may not be able to physically work in an office, but that doesn’t mean those who can enjoy it. People who don’t know about my SPD wonder how I can be so motivated to exercise and care for myself so regularly, but they would really benefit from taking time to intentionally do things that are pleasurable to them each day.

    Heidi Fischer

    Why Conventions Can Be a Healing Experience for Neurodivergent People

    Convention season has arrived, and I’ve come to a new realization. It now seems so incredibly obvious to me, but the truth is I didn’t see it until now. Conventions can be a healing experience for people who are neurodivergent.A group I include myself in. In case you aren’t familiar with the term neurodivergent, it falls under a large umbrella, something I’ve written about previously. Let me share how I arrived at this theory. For my fifth year running, I walk into my local entertainment expo, ready for a weekend of volunteering. I see the cosplay, the laughter, and the purchasing of artwork. Ah yes, I smile to myself, I am amongst my people. Friday night begins with a fellow volunteer spending 40 minutes excitedly informing me how critical it is that I one day visit Universal Studios during Halloween. We’ve never met before; it doesn’t matter.  He is fully immersed in sharing his experience, so much that I’m unsure when he has time to breathe. I don’t disagree, it sounds like it would indeed be awesome. Saturday, I volunteer at the photo ops booth. I chat with fans as they await their turn for a picture. I admire an attendee’s cosplay and enthusiasm. When I run into him later I ask to see his pictures. He does so happily,  proceeds to gift me a special rainbow Star Trek pin, and tells me how he started a 2SLGBT+ Star Trek scholarship. It’s all so awesome to hear about and I pop the pin on my backpack with a smile. On Sunday, I run into a friend. Over our overpriced colas, he tells me about some of his recent projects. He laughs and says how nice it is to not have to explain what the various Star Wars ships are that he’s talking about. I nod knowingly. Somewhere in the middle of those three days, it dawned on me that these conventions are a place of acceptance, kindness, and unapologetic nerdy joy… and that a good portion of folks who attend them are likely neurodivergent. I think about how in “the real world,” we are often teased or ignored when it comes to our enthusiasm for beloved fandoms and special interests. It’s common for the things we’re fans of to be seen as uncool when we’re kids and teens. As adults, in some circles, we may be scorned as being juvenile or weird. Here at conventions, our quirks are met with love and enthusiasm. A few weeks later, I headed to the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim, and I made a note to myself to continue looking for proof of my new theory. The first thing I do is await a photo with Ewan McGregor (swoon). I immediately make a line buddy when a nice fellow mentions he likes my makeup. We chatter about Star Wars and swap convention tips for the 30 minutes or so we are in line. I feel like I have a new best friend. In that same line, I mumble something about how I didn’t get a lanyard. Within seconds I get a tap on the shoulder and the person behind me hands me an extra. Nice. Later over lunch, I sit at a table with some friends and folks we’ve just met. As we eat, we are given tips on every topic from the best strategies for a Disney trip to where to buy the best and most affordable fabric for costume creation. Other folks ask to see our photo op pictures and become a cheering section as to the pictures’ awesomeness. We feel great. I could share many more stories but I’ll leave it there. I know not all people at these conventions identify as neurodivergent, but the kindness and acceptance that is offered to all in attendance can mean a lot to those of us that are. These spaces aren’t perfect. They can also include things that are regularly challenging. There are large crowds, long waits, bright lights, confusing directions, accessibility issues, lots of noises, and more. I do find though that a lot of conventions are actively working on making improvements so the experience can be enjoyable for all. When it comes to convention time, I do love meeting celebrities. It’s fun to get photos with them or have little chats. What I also cherish though is the experience of being in this funny little cosmos that encourages gender-bending cosplay, jumping up and down over getting exclusive merch, and where you can be an all-out nerd without fear of ridicule. There is also a recognition and acceptance that even though we may not share the details, we have deep reasons why we love our particular thing. To me, that’s the very definition of healing.

    Community Voices

    Lately the stress in my life has been messing with my language abilities, more than usual. Mostly expressive, but of course, since I have developmental receptive language difficulties as well, that's affected too. It's reminded me (over and over again) that the basic, underlying , fundamental difficulties that have been with me all my life really haven't changed, even though I've got oodles more compensatory skills than I used to. Many of which I've been losing to various degrees, for varying lengths of time.

    I really don't have anyone in my life anymore who understands what it's like to struggle with language, to struggle with communication, to struggle even with the concepts that underlie these things. Much less the physical difficulties that present themselves periodically as well. (Movement disorder type things, which may or may not be partially diagnosed). #Apraxia #ApraxiaOfSpeech #VocalCordDysfunction #FocalDystonia #SensoryProcessingDisorder #SensoryIntegration

    I feel like such an alien sometimes... having difficulty understanding concepts other people (even children) take for granted, yet easily understanding and being able to do things other people find difficult, easily.

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    Community Voices

    Have you ever heard of a neurodiverse theatre company?

    <p>Have you ever heard of a neurodiverse theatre company?</p>
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    Community Voices
    Community Voices

    EPIC Players presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in NYC!

    <p>EPIC Players presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in NYC!</p>
    Community Voices

    Have you heard of the term “sensory defensiveness?”

    <p>Have you heard of the term “sensory defensiveness?”</p>
    12 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    Neurodivergent fidgeting/stimming

    <p>Neurodivergent fidgeting/stimming</p>
    15 people are talking about this