sensory

I’d like to buy a mattress

I recently went mattress shopping. Yes, I took advantage of the president’s day mattress sales at Sleepy’s.

I knew I wanted a FIRM mattress, and I knew this because I do some of my best sleeping on the floor. I’m letting my SPD take the complete blame for this one. The hardness of the floor pushing against my body feels super awesome.

Unfortunately, my family frequently has to poke me to make sure I’m not dead. I’m fairly certain it’s an unsettling experience for them.

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Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, THE MATTRESS STORE. Once inside, I was greeted by an overly-friendly man in pink. He had intense eyebrows

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The dilemma occured to me quickly. I had a near IMPOSSIBLE time finding the difference from one mattress to the next.  ALL the mattresses felt EXACTLY THE SAME. Was this my sensory processing disorder? Could my body have an inability to distinguish different types of pressures? I don’t know.

I DO know that it made the whole experience very daunting.

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I was instructed to lay on the mattresses for approximately 3-5 minutes. Eyebrow man said it was because it needed to conform to my body. What a load of crapsauce. There was no way I was gonna sit on each mattress for up to five minutes. I had stuff to do! Like, buy a mattress, for instance. It never seemed to end.

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I was a lost soul, wandering hopelessly and without a destination through the outer reaches of the mattress solar system.

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It became quickly overwhelming. I did what my body told me to do, which was to go to each and every mattress in the store and pick up the little flap at the bottom and read the information about the specific mattress. I did this for about 50 mattresses. Luckily for me, eyebrow man was distracted with other customers, so everything sorted itself out.

 

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At one point, I tried a super expensive mattress that nearly sucked me into the underworld.

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In the end, I went for a firm mattress with a pillow top. I also upgraded from a twin to a FULL SIZE bed. (GET ON MY LEVEL).

The tag on my mattress said this, roughly:

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And so, I essentially purchased a very expensive boulder. I most likely could’ve chosen any mattress and it would have felt like the same damn mattress to me. What matters, however, was the experience. I’ve slept on my new rock-hard mattress for a few days now, and let me tell you, I don’t want to leave my bed. You should be impressed that I reached my computer to even make this post. Even now, I can hear my new mattress calling my name.

“kelly………..come lay with me……kelly…..”

I should get going. I have to lay in my bed and stare at my ceiling.

xo kelly

Be My SPD Valentine?

Love is in the air! (WOW IT SMELLS INTENSE, SOMEONE GET ME OUTTA HERE). Just kidding….eh, not really.

In honor of Valentines Day, I’ve teamed up with the lovely Rachel S. Schneider, author of the SPD blog, Coming To My Senses, to create four unique sensory valentines. Rachel created the funny valentines messages and I took care of the illustrations. Two of the valentines feature Rachel and her husband, while the other two feature yours truly. If it isn’t obvious, Rachel and I make a great team.

Check out these badass heartwarming Valentines:

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Feel free to share them ❤

I hope for you that love may find you – sensory friendly love, that is.

xoxo kelly

Marcus and the Club

I’ve come to realize that one of my greatest obstacles in life has been (and probably will continue to be) getting people to understand my sensory processing disorder. This rings true in college, the epitome of social involvement. But as you know, social-ness is not part of my expertise, as my sensory needs consistently seem to trump successful leisure activities. I have a very specific moment engraved in my memory that highlights this struggle.

This is me sitting in class at my local community college about three years ago:

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(Yes, in case you were wondering, I was the coolest person on campus…if you couldn’t tell from the illustration).

That day was unremarkable. I, along with several other students, were waiting for the arrival of our professor, who never showed up on time. During this time, most people were on their phones viewing pointless crapsauce, or chatting with their neighbor about pointless crapsauce. Meanwhile, I spent my time doing more important things:

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Suddenly, and I mean like outta freakin’ nowhere, this guy smashes his body onto my tiny desk, interrupting my wizard battle drawing.

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After I succeeded in NOT crapping myself, I realized he swiftly took the empty seat next to mine. His name was Marcus. He looked roughly similar to this:

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Marcus never talked to me up until this point, I doubt he knew my name. He normally sat on the other side of the classroom and generally made life annoying for the professor with his shenanigans. Every now and then, he was incredibly insightful during class. This was not one of those moments.

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I was all like:

WTF-face

I realized I had to, you know, respond. So I did.

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Without missing a beat, he fired right back.

“YOU SHOULD COME CLUBBIN’ TONIGHT!”

Hold up. Did I miss something? Didn’t I already address this invitation? I didn’t feel like diving into the hundreds of reasons why I didn’t want to – and probably should never – go to a club in NYC with this random guy from school.

Luckily for me, Marcus was a real charmer.

“But, sugar, you should come tonight.”

I tried politely turning down his offer.

“No thank you,” I said again.

Marcus replied, “But why don’t you want to go clubbing? I mean, I’LL BE THERE.”

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KILL ME NOW.

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It became apparent to me that I needed to give Marcus an explanation for why I couldn’t go to the club with him. I tried the simple response; nice and straight-forward.

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Marcus stared at me with silence and uncertainty.

With nothing left to lose, I began rambling on about what I’m sure was a complicated mess of crapsauce. On the bright side, it sounded great in my head.

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*pause*

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This ridiculous charade went on for several minutes. Marcus was a persistent bewb, and I was slowly losing my faith in mankind. I was beginning to worry that I would run out of ways to explain my SPD issues to him, because no matter what I said or how I said it, Marcus didn’t grasp the concept of me being physically unable to go clubbing…whatever the heck that means.

Just when I thought it was nearly over, a female classmate with very yellow hair and about ten thousand bracelets joined in the madness. Apparently, she was also going to the club, and now I had the pair of them giving me this look:

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It was at this point that I attempted to smile, because I was out of options and kinda stressed. KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS….ERR SOMETHING.

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Fortunately, since there is mercy in this cruel world, the professor FINALLY arrived. Marcus and bracelet girl stood up and returned to their seats on the other side of the classroom.

Of course, not before shouting, “YO SUGAR, I’LL PICK YOU UP TONIGHT. THEN WE’LL GO TO THE CLUB! AWWW YEAAA.”

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Moral of the story: If you get invited to “the club” or someplace similarly sensory dangerous, do a better job explaining yourself than I did. If that doesn’t work, smile intensely until you scare the person away. The latter method has rarely failed me.

 

xo kelly

Do you have a funny experience trying to explain your special needs? Share it in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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What the heck is ASMR?

Here’s a fun fact: As a 7 year old, I would stand dangerously close to the stove to get a view of my mom stirring dinner. If she was stirring sauce into pasta, well, I found the gentle sound so amazing, I was nearly euphoric.

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You’re probably thinking, this isn’t normal. I thought Kelly wrote a blog about weird things happening to normal people. 

Luckily for me, I discovered just a few years ago that my intense craving for watching people do seemingly normal things – like stirring pasta – was more than just being weird. It had a name.

I was all like:

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ASMR is an acronym for a long, fancy-sounding set of words: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

Let’s break this thing down:

Autonomous: self-determining; free; independent

Sensory: relating to the senses; information received by the senses

Meridian: possibly relating to the Chinese term for energy pathways and flow in the body

Response: the body’s reaction to sensory input

 

ASMR is roughly defined as the soothing, tingling, relaxing sensation that most often occurs in the head as a response to specific sensory input.

(AKA, I watch my mom stir pasta and I become insanely relaxed and my brain tingles nicely).

Now you’re thinking, I don’t know Kelly, this is still very strange. I’ve never experienced this before. It seems so vague. Brain tingles…what? Are you kidding me?

Alas! It IS vague.

After my research, I came up with a list of many common triggers for ASMR:

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One of the most common trigger sources for ASMR happens to be ALMIGHTY OVERLORD BOB ROSS.

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Chances are, you’ve watched Bob Ross create a beautiful landscape painting via public television. You were captured by his ability to create tiny details with a giant brush. The sound of his voice was like tiny cherubs massaging your eardrums. The little swooshing noises of the paint were delicious and perfect. You felt relaxed, maybe even dazed. For most people, this is the closest thing to ASMR.

Unless of course, you are like me and thousands like me, who feel all tingly and mushy in our brains by simply watching a man from India give another man a haircut; or by listening to a woman from Florida playing with marbles; or listening to a bald guy from Poland whisper as he talks about his mineral collection .

To an outsider, the act of watching an ASMR video appears beyond creepy. Most ASMR videos are done in whispers, and everything is very slow and surreal. Like, here’s me watching 45 minutes of a old woman whispering while she mixes paint and plays with brushes:

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I used to care about how strange it was, and I felt a bit embarrassed, but guess what…. NOT ANYMORE.

Watching an ASMR video is as if you were sitting on a cupcake, surrounded by a giant rainbow while dozens of cats lay around being cute.  It is the ultimate stress release.

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Of course, this feeling only comes if your brain/body can experience ASMR, otherwise, the videos will produce little to no results.

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ASMR is known for alleviating numerous mental and physical health issues. The most common reasons people turn to ASMR are: sleep disorders, anxiety/stress, and depression.

Unfortunately, ASMR is mostly unheard of. Research into it is few and far between. Honestly, I can understand this because it’s not a problem/disorder/disease. Why bother spending time researching random brain tingles after watching Bob Ross when there are, oh, you know, A MILLION MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO RESEARCH.

I don’t know about the future of ASMR. I was surprised to find it even had a name and that there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ASMR youtube videos for us dedicated “fans.’

Even if I feel less odd knowing it’s a “thing.”….my sister will be there for me:

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There you have it – ASMR. Are YOU an ASMR junkie? Have you heard of or experienced this before? Let me know in the comments!

xo kelly

 

Partying with SPD

Ask any person with sensory issues about how much they like going to parties.

Oh wait, you don’t have to, I’ll tell you for them. They don’t like it.

Large social gatherings are basically the OPPOSITE of the bees knees for SPDers (well, like 98% of us).

I was at a family/friends party recently. There were about 25 people there of various ages. I spent a lot of my time outside (because outside is usually better than inside because sound has no walls to bounce off of).

But then I came inside….for cake. Everyone was watching the world cup on the tv.

Of course, having impeccable timing like I always do, one of the teams scored a goal at that exact moment, and the house erupted in a roar of whoops and clapping. One of the party goers was clapping so forcefully that I felt as if he was slapping the side of my face with a piece of plywood. Oh yes, it was fun.

That was all I needed. I froze as my sensory system tried to understand what the heck just happened.

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Things went downhill quickly. Thankfully, my mom was nearby and witnessed the trauma as it unfolded. She quickly removed me from the scene:

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Meanwhile, my body moved zombie-like alongside her, unable to really process much of anything. Amazingly, I did not cry. AS usual, my body deals with trauma by zoning out, crying, and/or going full t-rex (which you can read about HERE). This time, however, I just zoned out.

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Mom and I had to then walk down a very steep hill to get away from the noisy, chaotic house party. As we walked, she joked about when my t-rex arms would appear. So I started making dinosaur noises and humming the theme song to Jurassic Park.

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It was all fun and games until we had to go from steep hill to steeper driveway. Mom was in heels, and it wasn’t pretty:

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MIRACULOUSLY, we made it down to the street where we found a nice little path to walk on….a flat path.

The combination of the air, walking, and having my mom to support me (no really, she was actually holding me upright) started to make me feel less like I was going to die. She started verbally bashing people, parties, society, etc…and it was funny.

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Even when we came across a barking dog, and I wanted to destroy him forever,  mom didn’t miss a beat:

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(NOTE: I would never wish a dog to die, but when I’m overstimulated, I can’t tolerate anything and become a vicious beast).

As we made our way back to the party, I decided to sit on the front porch steps and mom said she was going to bring me some cake. She said it would make me feel better. She came out holding what appeared to be the majority of the whole cake squished onto a little paper plate:

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Of course, she was right. I felt so much better after eating all that ice cream cake. Food for the SPD soul. This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that the cake had blue icing on it that stained our teeth bright blue, so we both looked like this:

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So that’s my party story.

Moral of today’s post: If you’re going to a party, especially where there will be loud, obnoxious people who will unknowingly destroy your will to live, make sure you bring a SPD friend or caretaker, such as MOM, who can carry out to safety and give you large pieces of cake.

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Thanks, Mom.

xoxo kelly

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:

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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.

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

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xoxo kelly

 

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):

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TWO SECONDS LATER….

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

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TWO SECONDS LATER….

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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:

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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:

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-xoxo kelly