Month: May 2014

I AM THE T-REX

So there’s this funny thing that happens to me when I experience sensory overload. Apparently I’ve had it for quite some time now, but I’ve only just given it a name and I’m working on stopping it. Sort of.

I call it, T-REX. It sounds way cooler than it actually is.

When I am over-stimulated, I struggle with what’s called proprioception. This is the ability to be aware of my own body movements and my spatial orientation, or position of my body and limbs.  In other words, it’s the ability of me knowing where my body is and what it’s doing. People with sensory difficulties may struggle with proprioception, although it’s not usually discussed because it’s not something general (like sound, touch, taste, etc).

In any case, when I experience this, my body and brain attempt to fix my sensory issues on their own and it doesn’t always work out so well for them.

It’s like when your husband says to you, “Honey, I’ll fix that leaking faucet even though I’ve never done so before but I totally can do it anyway.” The next thing you know, the faucet has exploded and there’s two inches of water in your home. Your husband put some duct tape around it and it’s “good enough I guess.” It has stopped leaking, but it’s certainly not fixed.

When my brain and body are over-run with sensory junk and they fail to fix it, they use their own version of duct tape. My brain tells my body to contort into the position of your average, everyday tyrannosaurus rex. It looks a little something like this:

Picture 8

Not only is this embarrassing, but I have no awareness of doing it. When I try to change my position, it’s extremely difficult if not, impossible. The T-rex pose is the only way my body and brain have decided to put a temporary fix on a problem they cannot seem to solve. I can only assume this pose comes from my brain trying to find balance.

When my mom and I are out together and she sees me doing this, she whisper/yells “T-REX. T-REX. T-REX.”

My mom then suggests that I try to change my arm position into a more normal-looking one. She says, “swing your arms!” But my arms refuse to. Instead, they swing in unison and I look even worse. It gets me weird looks and small children cry at the sight of it.

Picture 9

 

When all else fails, I must embrace it. I become the T-Rex, I AM THE T-REX.

Picture 11

 

xoxo kelly

 

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SPD vs just being sensitive

I have found that there appears to be a bit of confusion as to what it means to be sensory sensitive.

This confusion comes in many forms.

One area of confusion is often with children. I have read about and seen several instances where children display very poor behavior and their parent(s) explains that they have a sensory processing disorder (or something of that nature). While I don’t doubt that children with sensory sensitivities are prone to tantrums, meltdowns, and strange behavior or movements, SPD is becoming the name given to out-of-control children as an excuse for their behavior.

For example, I was in a bookstore and there was a young boy running around, making too much noise, taking things off the shelves, and generally causing mayhem and not caring what his mother had to say about it. I overheard his mother tell someone, “Well, he has the sensory processing thing, so…”

ok.

Who knows. Maybe this four year old boy did have sensory issues, but that shouldn’t be the excuse for his unruly behavior. Unfortunately, I see this a lot. It is becoming a default diagnosis for badly behaved children who don’t fit into other categories. It sounds like this:

“Your child likes to throw and break stuff? SPD.”

“Your child doesn’t listen to you at all? SPD.”

“Your child screams and punches you? SPD.”

This is very scary, considering the fact that I know how real SPD is, and that there are many children and adults with it, yet, it is becoming very much like ADHD in that it is being overly-used to compensate for lack of decent parenting or other issues in children. Then what happens is that people who DO have sensory issues are not taken seriously by the medical community.

 

The second area of confusion I’ve noticed is that there are people who don’t understand the concept of SPD and claim that every little thing that bothers or annoys them is because of a sensory processing issue. This is not true.

So let me give you a little demonstration:

Person WITHOUT SPD (a generally sensitive person):

Picture 5

TWO SECONDS LATER….

Picture 8

 

Person WITH SPD (a person with a sensory disorder):

Picture 9

TWO SECONDS LATER….

Picture 11

 

Can you see the difference?

A person who is generally sensitive to things may be bothered by something, but they have the ability  to push that sensitivity into the back of their mind. It no longer bothers them, and maybe they notice it….but they have the ability to remain calm and focus on other things despite this sensory annoyance.

A person who has SPD cannot stop perceiving sensory input (unless you are a hypo-sensitive person who needs MORE sensory input, than this little bit doesn’t apply to you, but you get the gist). The jeans are more than uncomfortable – they are disturbing and nothing else matters (NOT EVEN CUPCAKES) because my brain cannot stop being upset with the sensation of denim jeans on my legs. I cannot focus on anything else, and I definitely do not feel calm.

The latter story ends something like this:

Picture 21

 

I hope this post has helped clarify the difference between being annoyed by a sensation, and having a sensory problem. As usual, comments or discussion is welcome!

Also, here’s me and a giant cupcake:

Picture 22

 

-xoxo kelly