autistic

World’s Best Coper

To cope.

According to the dictionary, the word cope generally means to successfully deal with or handle something that is difficult. Another dictionary refers to it as overcoming problems and difficulties.

While I’m not sure how successful I am, I’ve developed decent ways of coping with my severe sensory problems. I am a good coper…sometimes.

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People cope in their own way. People with sensory problems like myself have to resort to coping in strange ways. Let’s explore some of those ways in which people with sensory problems cope:

1. DEEP PRESSURE

Those of us with wacky sensory junk have a strange affliction for the sensation of touch. We hate it. We love it. If you’re like me, you can’t stand light touches, but love deep pressure. To fulfill my need for sensory stability, I need a buddy. Usually my sister, the helpless victim to my needs:

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Ahh, sisterly bonding at its finest.

2. WALKING/RUNNING

Another great way to soothe sensory-related anxiety is to go for a walk or run. The feeling of your feet on the ground can be very stabilizing. But be careful, sometimes walking when overstimulated can leave you dizzy and freaky-looking (see my post about turning into a T-REX).

As I was saying, walking and running can be great.

Unless you are a weirdo like me, and since toddlerhood have been pacing for hours in confined spaces, like a bathroom.

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INITIATE LAUNCH SEQUENCE. TURBO ENGINES….GOOO!

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Fun Fact: I still do this all the time. Also, I’m still single. AMAZING, I know.

3. ROCKING CHAIR-ING

On the 8th day, God made the rocking chair, so people with sensory problems can experience its glory and power. That day, praises for the chair were sung by all the angels…..all five of them. They sang really loud to compensate for the lack of angels:

angel rocker

The rocking chair and I fell in deep, disgusting love. Cheesy one-liners starting appearing:

love rocker

The movement of being in a rocking chair is so wonderful – so calming to my sensory system – I feel as if I’m being transported through space, through time even! It’s like the twilight zone, except, it’s not. It’s just me in a chair.

space rocker

Then something like this happens:

special rocker

 

4. BICYCLE RIDING

So this one may not be for everyone. But this works for me….and this is my blog. So there.

I very much enjoy bike riding. The combo of using my legs to push the pedals and using my arms to hold and steer myself provides great relief when I’m overstimulated. I would ride my bike more often, except I live in a fairly rural area of New York. I can’t ride without fear of this happening:

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5. BRUSHING

I’ve mentioned brushing in a previous post (Occupational Therapy Adventure). Sensory brushes are great as they provide deep pressure to numerous parts of the body. I like the consistency that brushing provides, and I also like that I can control it myself. What person with SPD doesn’t love control, AM I RIGHT?

The only strange part about using brushing to cope with sensory issues is that it can be rather odd to tell someone about. For instance:

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And that’s how the cookie crumbles. I have many other less boring but still strange ways of coping with my SPD, as I’m sure many of you do as well, but I’m going to end it here. Moral of today’s post: if a Hollister model dressed in a fancy suit wants to take you out for a nice dinner date, don’t tell him you have to brush yourself for 40 minutes (even if you DO). This has never happened to me, but when it does, I will be ready. I will be PRE-BRUSHED.

xo kelly

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Occupational Therapy Adventure (for SPD)

Back in the glorious and confusing days of my childhood, I went to see an occupational therapist once a week to help with my sensory integration/processing disorder. His name was Frank, and he was a young guy who was extremely good looking (and now I CURSE myself because I never appreciated his attractiveness). I was obviously too distracted by the fact that I was 9 years old and more interested in the candy I received at the end of the session. Here’s a picture of Frank:

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Alright, so that’s not exactly him.  It’s just a picture of a hot, shirtless guy I found on google, but let’s all pretend this is Frank.

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Frank and I did LOTS of things in our short time together each week. He made me walk across a balance beam. This was to re-orient my vestibular system. I hated that. Frank would counter with some sort of ‘comforting statement’ like, “You’re only 2 inches off the ground.”

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Not very comforting Frank. Your charm and wit didn’t amuse me.

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Then he made me stick my hands in some glue and junk. We turned it green using dye, because why the heck not? It is very hard to describe to people who don’t have a sensory problem how it feels to do something that bothers your sensory problem, like sticking your hand in an icky substance. All I knew was that it was more than uncomfortable, and it created ugly signals in my brain. Therefore, I hated that too.

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Sometimes he would suggest that I take a trip through the rainbow tunnel. You know the kind – a small, plastic tunnel that most children enjoying crawling through.

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Not me though. My sensory system interpreted small, unfamiliar spaces as threatening:

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Then we played a stupid game, Connect Four. (Though not as stupid as the game I wrote about in my last post, Operation). I hated this the most because the sounds of the game were sudden and unpleasant. “This game is the pits,” I casually mentioned to Frank.

Frank chuckled at my statement, rested his perfectly featured face upon his hand, and encouraged me to finish the game. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom that she was paying a man to watch me play games that I didn’t even like. UNBELIEVABLE!

At this point of my OT session, I was slightly irritated with Frank. His smiley-ness and optimism was all too much for one girl to take.

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But it was not over yet. Before my OT session with Frank ended, he would spend the last several minutes doing joint compressions (pressing my joints in gently) and brushing. The brush looks like this:

Sensory-Surgical-Brush1

It’s kind of FANTASTIC. (Although, those without sensory deep-pressure needs may find the brush against their skin to be unpleasant or just weird).

But who cares about those people, this brush is wonderful. After some deep pressure exercises, brushing, and joint compressions, I felt like a new girl. My hatred for Frank and his gorgeous smiling face seemed to vanish. Things got a little freaky:

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Finally at the end of the session, I received my candy of choice and went on my merry way. This lasted for a few weeks or so, possibly longer, I don’t actually remember.

What I do remember is the absurdity of it all, and yet, my strange willingness to comply. I continued the compressions and brushing at home, but I don’t think that alone was enough to counteract the intense over-stimulation I was experiencing daily at school. Still, it was something, and definitely an experience I will never forget.

-xo Kelly