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Why “it could be worse” makes me feel worse

A few months ago, I was working on a new mantra. (The word mantra also sounds fancy and psychologically complex, so it feels cool to think I am working on one). I’m a goober, I know.

With the constant bombardment of social media, news media, and print media – ok, ALL THE MEDIA – telling me the pains of the world, I decided my new mantra would be:

“it could be worse.”

AKA, my own problems and pains are pointless because, well, look at how terribly other people are suffering.

In an attempt to alleviate my personal struggles, I thought it would be helpful to give myself some perspective. For instance:

that-could-be-me

The list went on, and it could’ve gone on forever. I thought, “if I constantly remind myself of how good things are in other areas of my life, I will simply banish the bad things with my super-positive-mindset-mantra brain power.”

And it worked, for a little while.

I read books about positive thinking. I read articles online about letting go of unpleasant thoughts. I watched videos on how to stop being depressed. I exercised when I felt my depression coming on.  I faked it until I would make it….except I wasn’t making it.

There was a gigantic flaw in my mantra.

I began to feel guilty for feeling upset or concerned about the “bad” in my own life. Or worse, I felt guilty for experiencing the physical symptoms of my own issues, like severe fatigue, for instance.

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And so, my mantra began to crumble faster than an old crumb cake.

It occurred to me that while it was important to work towards having a positive perspective on my life, it was equally important not to disregard my own struggles and think of them as minuscule or paltry.

No, I do not have a brain-eating amoeba, but that shouldn’t make my struggle with my sensory processing disorder, or depression, or anxiety, or anything else less valid. It’s OK for me to be concerned about these issues and how they impact my life. They are not “first-world problems.” They are my problems, and they are real.

depression

Yea I know, when I frame it like that, it does sound ridiculous.

Reasons the Mantra failed:

  1. Telling myself that other people have it worse did not make my problems go away. Rather, it made me feel worthless, weak and guilty for having them in the first place.
  2. It’s not about having a positive outlook, or different perspective on life. I am grateful for the life I was given, I appreciate the good (trust me, I really do). Thinking, “today I will not be anxious or upset by sound because there are people starving to death” did not – believe it or not – make me less anxious or upset by sound. It only made me feel selfish and powerless.
  3. It’s not about empathy, because I have cried for people I read about online in another country whom I’ve never met because they are suffering in ways I will probably never know. Did this change how I was able to face my own problems? Not really.
  4. In the beginning, my mantra sounded good. However, it would be the same as saying, “there are people who are happier than I am, so I cannot be happy.”
  5. I was attempting to control things which I’m literally unable to control most of the time.

 

What I’ve decided to do instead (and what YOU should do too):

  1. Recognize negative thinking patterns and focus my attention elsewhere. Similar to meditation, I am working on taking my negative thoughts or feelings, and letting them pass through me like water; in one side, and out the other. It’s OK for them to stop by, but they aren’t allowed to stay.
  2. Identify when my thinking patterns or inner dialogue is irrational – and make it rational.
  3. Not beat myself up with old school Catholic guilt for having problems in my life, even if other people technically have more serious problems.
  4. Stop stigmatizing my own mental health issues, because I deserve better than that.
  5. Try not to be super-duper jealous of the many people who have easier lives than I do (namely, people without neurological dysfunction on multiple levels). Also, continue to be appreciative of what I can do and all the good things my life has afforded me so far.
  6. Harry Potter movie binging

 

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Xo Kelly

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Halloween and How to Upset the Elderly

My favorite holiday is just around the corner: Halloween.

Witches, ghosts, candy, and people making bad decisions in horror movies; what’s not to love about the season of spooks?

Back when I was a spirited ten year-old, I spent my school days experiencing crippling anxiety brainstorming ideas for my Halloween costume using precise, statistical formulas:

halloween-notebook

After careful meditation and self-reflection, I chose what my ten year-old self believed to be the most creative, hilarious costume yet: A CEREAL KILLER.

Yes, you read that correctly. CEREAL. It was like being a serial killer with less serial and more CEREAL.

This was set to be the best Halloween ever.

The Big Day

October 31st finally arrived after what seemed like several lifetimes. Preparing my cereal killer costume took a lot of preparation. I had to collect – and eat – numerous mini boxes of cereal. Then, I had to stab each of the boxes with a plastic knife and paint fake blood gushing from the wound. Finally, I taped each box to my clothes, and added some blood splatter on my face for mood enhancement, and then I was ready to go.

cereal-killer

Momsy liked the costume because it was cheap and easy. She simply had to buy the cereal, which I ate anyway. It was a win-win. Dad was also a fan because he liked simple yet humorous costumes. In fact, for several years in a row, my Dad was a leaf blower:

leaf-blower

As dusk emerged, I sprinted with my friends to the first house for some sugary gems.

However, after visiting a few houses, a pattern began to materialize. Whenever someone old answered the door, they appeared heavily distressed by my costume.

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little-girl

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Yet house after house of elderly folks, the reaction upon seeing my costume was the same. I became a bit dismayed. Young people, even those delightful middle-aged homeowners, seemed to enjoy my costume. But those elders….not so much. Was it the thought of their beloved Fiber One cereal being gruesomely murdered too much to bear?

New Beginnings

stink-on-ice

Dad was right. I didn’t need the approval of wrinkly people to enjoy my Halloween festivities! Nay. My costume was funny and creative and definitely unique. If I was going to continue my trick-or-treating as a cereal killer, than darn it all, I was going to be the most terrifying cereal killer around. And I was going to do it with style.

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Moral of the story: always be true to yourself… especially if you’re a ten year-old cereal killer.

And to my senior friends: You better take good care of your fiber-filled breakfasts. I may be stopping by your house….for MURDERRRRRRRRRRRR.

bran-flakes

 

xo kelly

True Tales: Owl Encounter

It was just an ordinary Thursday evening, or so I thought.

I was up to one of my usual activities: sewing. (Note: I may or may not be a wrinkly old lady trapped inside the body of a super attractive young woman.)

In the middle of stitching away my emotional pain, I heard a ruckus from the other side of my house. (Well, my parent’s house. I don’t own a house. I have no money.)

owl 1

owl 2

When you live in the wilderness as I do, you know that bird behavior is very indicative of the state of the environment. Meaning, if the birds are freaking out, something’s going on. And that something is usually a predator.

To my absolute and total delight, that predator happened to be an owl. A barred owl, in fact. If it wasn’t obvious from my owl hat that I’m really into flying creatures (especially owls) let it be known: I’m really into owls.

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The barred owl – the elusive animal that it is – is rarely seen, but often heard. They are known as the “who-cooks-for-you” owl, as their hoot sounds bizarre and more like a monkey on steroids than a majestic bird. Believe me though, this is a creature of pure elegance.

It was clear that the owl had arrived to reunite with me and connect spirits.

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Through years of practice and experience, I have essentially mastered the barred owl call. However, it is still a mystery as to why no owls flock to me when I perform the tune with perfection and grace.

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From what I could tell, the owl was really paying attention. His face said “focus and concentration.” He was into it.

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Suddenly, a bird flew from another dimension and BOOPED my owl friend right in the face!

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Though annoyed, the owl did not move from his branch. Instead, his expression changed from “mildly irritated” to “apathetic slow burn.”

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Meanwhile, I sprinted inside to grab my cheap pair of binoculars. If this was going to be an evening of  intense owl observation and possible spirit connection, I needed to be prepared.

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Just as I focused my lenses on the owl, it took off into the dense woods. My world, once warm and illuminated, was now dark and lifeless as Voldemort himself.

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Eternity passed – although admittedly it was only a few minutes –  before my owl friend reappeared. This time, he was on the opposite side of our backyard. I maneuvered my way closer in what could only be described as a “slow dash.” As in, I was trying to go as fast as possible while simultaneously moving at a snail’s pace, as to not frighten the owl. (In some cultures, I’m certain these same bodily movements are used to summon spirits and curses.)

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Momsy and Sister came outside to catch the action.

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In my mind, I pictured the moment to be intense, in a spiritual-enlightenment kind of way. It wasn’t like that though.

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A Few Days Later

A miracle was about to occur in my life and I was not emotionally prepared for it. Just a few days after my first owl encounter, I heard the familiar screech from the woods. I went outside with my binoculars, hoping to catch another glimpse.

I was not expecting what would happen next.

I spotted the owl on a low hanging branch. Suddenly, I heard an identical screech but from another tree! To my utter delight, two owls appeared on the branch together. My excitement was overwhelming.

Could this moment possibly get any better?!

As if the universe was hearing my informal plea, a THIRD owl made itself comfortable on the branch next to the others, who weren’t exactly happy to share the space. Nevertheless, it was a magical and remarkable moment for me. I have low standards for happiness.

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And that, quirksters, is the end of this story. Darkness overtook the sky, and I stood below a tree watching my winged friends until I could no longer see my own hand in front of my face.

It was a moment I will remember for a long time to come (but honestly will forget most of the details in a week).

xo kelly

 

 

ZEMS: The Best Hearing Protectors in the World

I’d like to think that even with my sensory problems, I can still manage to be the epitome of high-class sophistication and style at every minute of the day. Problem is, thinking it and being it are two very different things.

With my high sensitivity to sound, I always have an array of options to protect myself from the noisy noise of the world around me.

I’ve got fancy noise-cancelling headphones, and yes, they really do cancel the noise.

I’ve got special wax ear plugs imported from Europe (No, I’m not kidding. Momsy ordered them for me last year and they are wonderful and European.)

I’ve got cheap wax ear plugs that I bought from CVS Pharmacy. I hate them and they hate me.

I’ve got mushy styrofoam-like earplugs that will not fit into my baby-sized ears, and my hatred for them is so intense, I could cry.

But more importantly, I’ve got these:

sensgard

Quirksters, I proudly present my most favorite form of hearing protection and noise reduction: ZEMS by Sensgard.

Although they appear awkward and non-functioning, do not let appearances fool you! These beauties are frighteningly effective at stopping unwanted sound waves from reaching my precious ear drums.

But how do they work?

im not saying its magic

i-love-magic

ME TOO HARRY, ME TOO.

But there’s real technology behind this. Those two tubes on either side (which sit in your ears) act as an extension of the ear canal. They are hollow, and physically pull certain frequencies of sound away from your ear. Yet, the design allows for some sounds, such as the sound of a person’s voice, to enter the ear mostly untouched.

What does this mean, Kelly?

ZEMS by Sensgard are the first and only form of hearing protection that I’ve come across that actually discriminate between unwanted and wanted sound. As in, I want to hear what people are trying to tell me but I don’t want to hear the clanging of dishes in the background. ZEMS take care of all that.

In essence, it’s a miracle product for human beans who suffer from sound sensitivity.

Look! Here’s an average man using a noisy and dangerous power tool in close proximity to his nether regions. Alas, the man fears nothing because his ZEMS have come to his rescue just in time when his friend from across the room said, “hey buddy careful where you’re aiming that thing!” And so, his man ornaments were saved, because over the noise of the machinery, he could still hear his friend’s warning.sensgard man

Look again! Here’s another human bean making the hard choice between neon orange or neon green ZEMS. (Neon green has my vote, at it totally matches the neon green accents in the rest of the space. But what do I know, I’m only an entry-level fashion designer.)

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OH NO! ZEMS by Sensgard work so well that this innocent child is completely unaware that she’s about to be devoured by hordes of zombies in a matter of seconds! It’s too bad she left her page blank, she could’ve at least written some final words: Dear Ma and Pa, I leave you my pink shirt with the sparkly bow, and these red and yellow blocks which I am currently using as a makeshift chair and desk. I also leave you my notebook which contains a meticulous catalog of every cupcake I’ve ever eaten. Also, I’m a 245 year-old time lord and I knew this was going to happen.

watch out girl

ZEMS by Sensgard, as effective as they are, do have one design flaw. This flaw only seems to impact me, however. When I wear ZEMS, my head is not large enough to balance the apparatus on my head. With any movement, it will flop forward onto my face, or go flying backward off my head entirely. Therefor, I have found the most direct way to prevent this is to place a sock between my head and the ZEMS. This creates enough filler to stop it from falling off my apparently smallish head. The finished product is simply a feast for the eyes:

is it just me

With my ZEMS by Sensgard held in place by an old sock, I am literally unstoppable. I should probably purchase a child’s size instead, but look at me now:

rainbow zems

With the problem of noise eliminated, the only predicament remaining is a glaring one: I simply cannot leave the house wearing the ZEMS&sock combo. Not only would this be socially devastating, but it would most likely solidify my single lady status for eternity.

……

Oh wait, I forgot. I don’t give a flying flipper about social devastation. Sign me up for speed dating and I will show up with ZEMS and sock in hand, and I’ll be darned if every potential suitor refuses to marry me on the spot.

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So there you have it. A fabulous noise eliminator, a stylish fashion accessory, and a courtship enhancing device, all wrapped in one.

If you think this whole post is a joke, let me show you this exclusive picture of me a few years ago, wearing my ZEMS&sock combo. Hashtag no shame.

zems pic

If you would like one, more info can be found on their website. Here’s the link -you’re welcome: http://www.sensgard.com/

Stay quirky my friends

xoxo kelly

SPD Diagnosis in Adulthood

Here is a fun fact according to many medical professionals: children with sensory processing disorder grow out of their sensory issues, and become well-adapted teens and adults.

 

In a previous post I coined the phrase: people grow out of sweaters, not neurological conditions.
I know this is true because nearly every week I read about a new person realizing that they have had sensory issues since childhood and these same problems continue to plague them in adulthood. However, these adults struggle to find a doctor willing to help them.

So this leads me to my next conundrum. Due to the belief that SPD is a disorder of childhood – WHICH WE GENIUSES OF THE INTERNET KNOW TO BE NOT TRUEanother belief now exists that there are no adults suffering with SPD. I use the term suffering because I’m almost certain nobody that has this condition actually enjoys it.

love having spd

Because of this idea that adults don’t have SPD, and doctors don’t always recognize it, we cannot get treatment or help OR ANYTHING because apparently we are not legit.

Story time:

Start from the Beginning

When I was thirteen years old, I went to a occupational therapist to talk about my worsening sensory issues. I was previously diagnosed with SPD at age 6, and 10 by an OT. Here’s a little summary of what happened:

it looks like

I know

grow out of it

info

goodbye forever

thank you for nothing

The end.

The OT handed me a piece of paper containing information about how to create a good sensory diet, AKA things I already knew.  My experience mirrors that of countless others, who, as adults, were unable to receive actual therapy beyond a consultation from an OT solely due to their age. Even worse, most adults who believe they have SPD cannot find an OT who will see them just once for a consultation.

I don’t know of any other condition where this happens. Age should not be a factor in being able to receive treatment for a possible neurological disorder. And so I thought to myself, “Self, it’s time to investigate.”

Find me an OT!

I took it upon myself to pretend to find an OT in my area that would work with SPD adults. Trusty ‘ol Google helped me out with this. I am not lying when I say that every single place that offered occupational therapy services in my area were clearly places for children:

Pediatric This; Pediatric That; Fun in the Sun OT; Big Leaps OT;  Little Hearts OT. You get the picture.

Strangely, back in the early 90’s when my Momsy was desperate to get me some help, she had a very hard time finding an OT that would work with children! I kid you not. OT was an adult thing. My my, how the times have changed!

Like with other neurological conditions, people like to pretend that once children grow up, the problems don’t exist anymore. It’s like the Magical Neuro Fairy waves his wand and the problems are gone! AMAZING!

poof

What now?

How do you get a diagnosis or even better – TREATMENT – for Sensory Processing Disorder as an adult?

I don’t know.

The world of Occupational Therapy and SPD seem to revolve around children and children alone. I don’t know why this is, when there are clearly so many adults with sensory issues.

However, I’ve created a list of ways that will give you the best chance of getting a diagnosis:

  1. Contact any and all OT’s in your area and ask if they’re willing to meet with you (yes, call the OT center for children. You have nothing to lose). Even if they aren’t willing to do actual therapy with you, at least they can screen you and tell you whether or not your issues are sensory related.
  2. If option 1 doesn’t work, speak with your regular doctor and ask for a referral to see a specialist, such as an neurologist or psychologist/psychiatrist. There is a small chance that they can help you with your sensory issues. This is a neurological condition after all.

 

Crap. That list was shorter than I expected.

What to do if Kelly’s list didn’t work because it was too short:

Luckily, Sensory Processing Disorder is one of those problems that you can successfully manage on your own, without the help of an OT or medical professional. There is an abundance of information online – as well as in print – to guide SPD’ers of any age.

Here is my new list of what to do if you believe you have SPD but are unable to get a diagnosis/treatment because of your age (or any other reason):

  1. Go to a library, bookstore, or Amazon.com and get the following books: 
    1. Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues by Rachel S. Schneider
    2. The Out-of-Sync Child Grows Up by Carol Kranowitz
    3. Uptight and Off Center: How Sensory Processing Disorder Throws Adults Off Balance and How to Create Stability by Sharon Heller
    4. Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World by Sharon Heller
  2. Create your own Sensory Diet. What is a Sensory Diet? A Sensory Diet is a treatment plan that will help you throughout your day to manage your sensory issues. The “diet” usually consists of various sensory-related activities that help regulate and calm your specific sensory woes. For example, using a Wilbarger Brush 3 times a day, or using Chew Toys can be part of a sensory diet. Each person is different, and so each Sensory Diet will be different too.
  3. Join support groups for adults with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am currently an administrator for the Facebook group, Sensory Processing Disorder Adult Support. The page provides great emotional support and answers for SPD adults, both diagnosed and undiagnosed. There may also be support groups that meet in-person within your community.
  4. Find a mental health counselor or therapist to guide you through the other crapsauce that comes along with dealing with sensory issues. It’s not all about OT, you know. We are people, and people have feelings.

For the record, it’s very much OK to not have an SPD diagnosis. This is not a life-or-death condition, even though it can be a this-is-ruining-my-life condition. A diagnosis will not change how you approach your own life, and how you go about being proactive about your sensory issues. (An exception to this would be if you need a diagnosis for work or school modifications. In that case, a doctor or even a therapist may be able to sort out your educational/vocational issues without having to give you an “official” SPD diagnosis.)

I hope this was helpful to you, and if it wasn’t…then I’m not sorry because I did take a lot of time to look into this (hahaha).  However, I am sorry that the world isn’t up-to-speed with how to best help adults with sensory issues. It really sucks. Until that time, be your own advocate, and have some cake/cupcakes my friends.

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xo kelly

 

SPD is not a “dubious diagnosis”

There I was, spending a quiet evening at home, munching diligently on some freshly-baked oatmeal cookies when my eyes scanned the internet headline “Why ‘Sensory Integration Disorder’ Is A Dubious Diagnosis.” The author of the article, Peter L. Heilbroner, MD, PhD, states that Sensory Processing Disorder (or Sensory Integration Disorder, as it’s also known) is not a real condition.

cookies yay

As I began to violently shovel oatmeal cookies into my mouth, I read and re-read his article over and over. Below, I have written a counter-argument, because I believe Sensory Processing Disorder is real and those of us with SPD deserve advocacy. Since I am an adult with SPD, I will do the advocating!

 

His argument:

“Many children with autism have “sensory issues” such as oversensitivity to touch. Similar symptoms occur with other neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems (including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and anxiety disorders. However, the prevailing medical view is that “sensory symptoms” are a nonspecific indicator of neurodevelopmental immaturity rather than a distinct disorder. Such symptoms can also occur in children considered normal.”

My argument:

Yes, many children with autism do have sensory issues, as do children with various other neurological disorders. And yes, sensory issues can come about throughout early childhood as the brain is still developing and growing, and this is totally normal.

But, when children are struggling for long periods of time with basic sensory-related acts, it’s time to question whether or not that child is neurologically immature, or if there’s an actual problem with the child’s neurology that needs fixing.

 

His argument:

“Moreover, except in cases of autism, these sensory symptoms are virtually always outgrown. Do you know of any non-autistic adults with the type of “sensory problems” said to occur in SID? I work in the largest neurology group in my state. Although we see every conceivable neurological complaint, I have yet to hear from my colleagues of even one case of “SID” in an adult. In my experience, children who had been diagnosed with “SID” were overly anxious and come from a family that includes others who suffer from an anxiety disorder.”

My argument:

First thing’s first. Ok, I’ll admit it: those of us with SPD are usually very anxious people. But why are we so anxious? Oh yes, it’s because our sensory difficulties make ordinary life tasks difficult and anxiety producing. I know for myself, anxiety and sensory issues are two separate things, but SPD can make my anxiety worse, and anxiety can make my SPD worse. However, I rarely confuse the two – or smush them together as one – because their symptoms manifest very differently.

Second, just because you haven’t personally met an adult with a sensory disorder does not mean that these people do not exist. I’m telling you – there are thousands of adults with SPD, many of us are living with no diagnosis for various reasons. Some of us struggle so immensely with our SPD that we cannot live normal lives. Thanks to the internet, many adults have reached out for help and found support. They are startled to find that their symptoms are shockingly similar – not just regarding anxiety, but symptoms such as extremely poor coordination, or severe distress around bright lights, or the inability to wear certain fabrics, or feeling ill around certain odors. These people are not autistic, yet they suffer from severe sensory issues.

hello hi im here

 

His argument:

“Since few (if any) adult patients have SID, it is reasonable to question whether costly interventions are really necessary for what are most likely self-limiting problems of neurodevelopmental immaturity and anxiety.”

My argument:

Am I “neurodevelopmentally immature?” Gee, I hope not. I like to think of myself as “neurodevelopmentally unique or divergent.” The different wording makes it sound less like I’m to blame for my own neurological problems, and it gives me more hope that I can manage my life better.

Costly research and interventions have helped change the lives of millions of people with neurological disorders. Without research and treatment exploration, people living with conditions such as autism, epilepsy, PTSD and other disorders of the brain would still be receiving inappropriate treatment, or none at all.  Some of these conditions were completely misunderstood and stigmatized until science  – and humanity – caught up. I want the same to be said for Sensory Processing Disorder.

Here is a link to a recent study that found quantifiable differences in the brain structure of children with Sensory Processing Disorder. This is the first time science has found biological evidence of SPD:

Breakthrough Study Reveals Biological Basis for Sensory Processing Disorders in Kids

 

His bottomline:

“Most children develop and improve their behavior spontaneously. Since few (if any) adult patients have SID, it is reasonable to question whether costly interventions are really necessary for what are most likely self-limiting problems of neurodevelopmental immaturity and anxiety. Well-designed scientific studies are needed to determine whether or not SID is a definable disorder, and even if so, whether the treatments currently prescribed are effective or necessary. Until studies along these lines are conducted, the diagnosis of SID should prompt a healthy degree of skepticism. Working with a friendly and relaxed therapist can be calming to children. I believe that families with children with behavioral or anxiety disorders would be better off getting standard treatment than investing time and money in unproven approaches.”

My bottomline:

Don’t rush into investing time and money on treating sensory issues before you truly know if sensory issues are the problem. Anxiety treatment is not the same as sensory treatment, but treating anxiety can help a person with sensory issues. Visit an Occupational Therapist to see if what you’re experiencing is SPD or something else. It’s rarely a good idea to self-diagnose and treat. An OT will be able to provide a diagnosis and treatment plan specifically designed to help sort out sensory issues.

Most importantly, adults with Sensory Processing Disorder do exist, and SPD is definitely not a dubious diagnosis.

 

Here is the link to the article by Mr. Heilbroner if you wish to read it in full:  http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/sid.html

What are your thoughts on this topic?

-Kelly

MAKING SENSE: THE BOOK

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Alien lifeforms and deep sea creatures,

Beings of Middle Earth, Narnia, and Neverland,

 

TODAY, FEBRURARY 15TH, my pal Rachel S. Schneider of Coming To My Senses has released her book, Making Sense: A Guide To Sensory Issues

rachels book feb15

Why is this important? I know you’re a busy human, so let me list the reasons:

  • Rachel – a late-diagnosis SPD’er – is a major advocate for those of us with sensory issues (as well as a bucket of other issues) and has helped hundreds, if not more people through her websites rachel-schneider.com and Coming To My Senses. She also created a Facebook adult support group for SPD adults, which now boasts over 1,400 members.
  • She has worked tirelessly through her own sensory issues to write a book to help others with the exact same problem. I know the extent of her efforts because she sent me rough drafts and such throughout the entire process.
  • Rachel is a compassionate little maniac who has made it her mission to see to it that Sensory Processing Disorder is given the recognition it needs.
  • Although aimed at adults, this books will give insight to those of every age with and without sensory issues.
  • OH, AND I AM THE ILLUSTRATOR OF THIS BOOK.

omg yas

Who is this book for?

  • humans
  • humans with large brains, especially those who wish to expand their brain size
  • you

Who is the book NOT for?

  • humans who do not wish to gain any knowledge and remain fartfaces forever
  • dogs, because they generally do not read books (Note: this book may be read to dogs, by their humans.)

Here is an exclusive illustration from the book. Can you guess where this idea came from?

i see sensory people

Order your copy today from:

rachel-schneider.com

Amazon.com

Barnes&Noble.com

All the above links bring you directly to the book’s page. You’re welcome.

 

xoxoxoxo kelly

 

 

The Day I Learned I Couldn’t Dance

 In other words, can my neurological condition take the blame for my lack of groove?

 

In a pathetic moment of hormonal-induced rage, my depressed, potato brain had created two options for itself:

1. run around and destroy local property and regret it later while in jail

2. find a sweet-ass dance video on youtube and dance my awful feelings into oblivion

Luckily for everyone, I selected option 2.

 

After throwing on some terrible pink shorts and a ugly maroon tank top, I was ready.

lord of the dance

Youtube provided a wide array of follow-along workout videos. I decided to watch the one with the most attractive, happy, and successful looking people. If I danced with them, I could become them. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right? They were led by her:

hot workout 1

Her name is Bipasha Basu; she’s a popular Indian actress with hair that flows and skin that glows.

At first, it was encouraging. All these attractive people dancing and exercising together to make themselves even more attractive. I too, was dancing with them. Bipahsa was talking to me; her incredible abs motivated me; her bronzed cleavage cheered me on.

 

It would be nice if my dance story ended here:

I danced into the sunset with Bipasha and the crew, as my mental health struggles melted away. Everyone was right – exercise does help!

 

Unfortunately, the story goes more like this:

Within approximately 7 minutes, I realized that I was not only struggling to dance along with Bipasha, but I was completely unable to dance at all.

As Bipasha and the rest of her gorgeous friends boogied effortlessly, I was unable to follow even the most basic dance instructions.

Literally, no exaggeration here:

me vs bipasha

To add to the incredibly low level of self worth I was experiencing, the dance moves became increasingly more difficult and soul-crushing – this one was referred to as the “sexy sway.” I’m not joking, look at the screen shot I took:

sexy sway oh god 2

I can assure you there was no swaying and there was definitely no sexiness on my end. If I had dance moves, they would probably be:

trex dance

SULTRY STUBBED TOE

ANXIETY

My dog Sam sat silently nearby, judging me. (Also, what a hypocrite! As if Sam can dance better than me! What’s his best dance move you ask? Probably the “Fantastic Fart.”)

JUDGING YOU

 

To add to the insanity, I danced in the privacy of my own bedroom, which is barely large enough to accommodate regular life activities, let alone dancing and dog lounging. Sam didn’t want to lay on my bed or in any surrounding area. No, he chose to sit right in the middle of my personal dance arena.

places to sit

What can only be described as some freaky, alien-esque aerobics, the experience left both me and the dog in a state of hyper confusion.

wave those arms!

 

Sam, not being the type to filter his facial expressions, or shower me with unconditional love as other dogs do, was clear about his opinion of me at the time.

what the crap

My only saving grace was in the few moments during the workout where Bipasha and the gang would march in place. I’ll have you all know that marching in place happens to be one of my special talents.

march workout 2

so good at marching

 

As I marched in place (into the sunset), I became comfortable with the fact that I cannot dance along to any sort of choreography at this time. (It also occurred to me that I should probably see a neurologist because WTF something is WRONG.) 

Maybe one day, when my brain decides to get with the program, I will join in the ranks of Bipasha’s aerobic dance team/squad/army. Until then, I will march on….in place, obviously.

xo kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Lies We’ve Been Told About Group Projects

I’m writing this post to vent some sort of lingering resentment and rage that resides deep within me from my days of doing group projects at school.

As far back as I’m sure most of us can remember, school often involved working with other students. Hell hath no fury like a group project.

group projects 1

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you were like me – you found that you were the person in the group who did all the work. The other group members were, basically, incompetent hyenas. (By the way, I would’ve rather worked with a group of incompetent hyenas than most of the people I was forced to work with.)

Teachers would revert to the same lengthy explanation of why exactly we were working in groups. It was always the same, and can be summarized with 5 main points:

1. Group work allows students to build communication skills.

2. Group work teaches students to delegate responsibilities and create trust.

3. Group work demonstrates the value of diverse ideas.

4. Group work forces students to learn time management.

5. Group work shows students that five heads are better than one.

You probably know what I’m going to say….

The previous five points are all utter crapsauce, in my most humble opinion. We have been fed lies I tell you, lies. Without further ado, allow me to break this down, point by point, so we all can gain a clearer understanding of why the 5 points supporting group work are really 5 points supporting slow mental collapse.

1. Group work allows students to build communication skills.

When you work in a group, you first pray that the other groupies are sane members of the human race. If they are not, there will be no “building communication skills.” In fact, there will be little communication at all. After approximately 20 minutes of group work, you will realize that your communication skills have slowly deteriorated.

group projects 2

*5 minutes later*

group projects 3

*5 minutes later*

group projects 4

2. Group work teaches students to delegate responsibilities and create trust.

What a joke. Students know that “delegate responsibilities” is code for “split up the work and hope that everyone does they’re part or the entire group is screwed.” If you know that some members of your group are not responsible students, why on this great earth would you give THEM the responsibility of a project for which YOU will be graded? I can only be responsible for myself. (I refuse to be held accountable for Jimmy, because he doesn’t give a flying crap about destroying the whole group by being an inept hyena).

group projects 5

As for trust, in a group project, there is none. (The only exception to this is when you remembered that that one student in your group did a group project with you two years ago in a history class, and they demonstrated they were not an inept hyena back then, therefore, they are probably still trustworthy, and you make them your secret group ally).

If you KNOW that a person in your group is not a responsible person, why should you trust them? Again, I can only be responsible for myself, so in the end, I can only trust myself. The responsibility/trust thing kind of go together….a lot.

3. Group work demonstrates the value of diverse ideas.

Most of the time, I value diverse ideas. New perspectives, innovative techniques, thought-provoking discussion; sounds marvelous, wouldn’t you agree?

I’m going to be a terrible person right now: I value diverse ideas in a group project as long as those ideas do not come from an inept hyena. When they do, they drag the entire group down into pit from which none return; a pit of inept hyenas.

group projects 6

4. Group work forces students to learn time management.

I’m sensing a repeating theme here: I can only be responsible for myself, trust myself, and be aware of my own time management skills. I cannot – and should not – have to be responsible for Jimmy the Inept Hyena and his time management skills, or lack of.

You can hear the low groaning of students as they struggle to arrange their insane schedules to work with five different people – each with their own insane schedule – on a project.

group projects 8

group projects 7

group projects9

5. Group work shows students that five heads are better than one.

Point number five contains the largest amount of crapsauce. Clearly, five heads are only good if the five heads have known each other for a long time, and have established a solid social and working relationship which leads to trust and success required for working in groups.

Group projects in school never work like this. I for one know that one head – my own head – is better than sharing it with four other heads in this particular circumstance.

group projects 10

 

In brief summary: group projects suck. Nobody can be trusted, especially inept hyenas.

xo kelly

 

Public Restrooms: A Guide for the Sensory Sensitive

Picture this: you are out and about in this great, big world – away from the comfort and security of your own bathroom. Suddenly, it hits you.

bathroom 1

You gotta go.

Perhaps it was those two three cups of tea you had this morning. Maybe you ate a sandwich and afterwards, you remembered sandwiches give you tummy troubles. How unfortunate! Whatever the case may be, you know now that your destination is only one place: the public restroom.

Depending on where exactly you are, your public restroom experience will be either “pretty bad,”extremely bad” or,”oh lord have mercy on me.”

If you’re like me, most public restroom experiences fall into the “oh lord have mercy on me” category. This is because not only do public restrooms suck all faith in humanity from my soul, but they are also SENSORY-DANGEROUS SPACES. What constitutes a SENSORY-DANGEROUS SPACE, you ask?

sensory dangerous spaces chart

Luckily for you, I’ve spent my whole life figuring out the best way to deal with public restrooms as someone with Sensory Processing Disorder. I will now bestow upon you, dear friends, the skills and swift tricks I have mastered to survive these dreaded moments.

1. Know your options

Before heading to your death in a public restroom, stop and think. Do I know of a nearby restroom which offers a BETTER sensory experience? Can I make it there in time? If yes, go there. Always know your options before making a commitment.

Within my first week of college, I made myself into a restroom expert of sorts. In my mind I created a mental map of the entire campus and all its restrooms. Each one had a rating scale of how sensory-dangerous it was. I carefully calculated the time it would take me to run from one class, across campus to use the least sensory-dangerous restroom, and back to my next class without being late. (It’s actually really sad that I had to run through this anxiety-producing drill every day at school, but beggars can’t be choosers….or something like that.)

2. Use your tools

If you’re like me, you keep an arsenal of sensory tools with you at all times. For my particular sensory needs, this includes: ear plugs, bigger ear plugs, noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, and a Wilbarger brush.

Much like preparing for battle, one must gear up before heading to a public restroom. There is no shame in this!

3. Go during safe times

If it can be avoided, use the public restroom at times when you will likely be the only one in there. Just one other person can reak havoc upon your restroom experience. Tread carefully!

If it is impossible for you to use the restroom during slower times, then option three is a total waste of time. I’m sorry I even created this option.

4. All about technique

So you find yourself in the restroom with multiple people doing multiple things. I’m talking about hand dryers, hand washing, toilets flushing, doors slamming, kids screaming, people talking loudly on their phones (which by the way, has me all “WTF talk somewhere else”), and many more!

Your tools can only go so far. It’s not about the tools you have, rather, it’s how you use them. It’s time to explore the Techniques for Public Restroom Sensory Safety and Survival, or as I call it: TPRSSS, (pronounced “te-purrs”).

Technique 1: Wash ‘n Go

After you’ve done the business, it’s time to rid yourself of those pesky germs. But wait! Oh no! The restroom is crowded with people using those hand dryers that sound like commercial airliners taking off. For this technique, wash your hands and RUN. Dry on your own time – those hand dryers will wait for no one.

RUIN YOUR DAY

Technique 2: Be aware of your neighbors.

Are your fellow restroomers about to flush and unleash a windstorm of sudden, loud toilet sounds? Be prepared and mindful of your neighbors. Don’t let an unexpected flush or door slam set you off into panic mode.

Technique 3: The Cold Shoulder

In a moment of haste, you may have forgotten to wear hearing protection before entering the restroom. Fear not! In this situation, cover your ears and use your shoulder to take the place of one hand when that hand is in use. Observe the following diagram:

bathroom technique 1

Technique 4: Run, Forest, Run

Move quickly. You are a cheetah in the fast-lane. Slow and steady will not win the race for you when you’ve got sensory issues in the restroom.

Technique 5: Mental Stamina

Here’s the situation: you gotta go, but the restroom is crowded and way too overstimulating for you right now. But you’ve been here before. It’s time for you to use your mental powers to convince yourself that you really don’t have to go at all. Need to pee? Not anymore. Why? YOUR MIND TOLD YOU SO. This technique requires time and patience, but once mastered, it may be your saving grace in a desperate situation.

BRAIN POWERS ACTIVATE

In conclusion, restrooms are a sensory nightmare. But, with the right techniques, you CAN survive the experience.

As I lay awake at night, pondering the insanity that is life, I imagine a world where people with Sensory Processing Disorder can use public restrooms with ease. I dream of quieter toilets, and paper towels for hand drying, maybe even less fluorescent lighting! Let us end the reign of restroom misery!

One day I will enter a public restroom less like this:

bathroom fear

And more like THIS:

make way peasants

xo kelly

Got any other sensory-related restroom advice? Let me know in the comments!