Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Information = New Ideas

I've been doing a little more research on Sensory Processing Disorders and I've come to realize that I suffer from one as well. To say "suffer" seems a little harsh, because I truly don't feel as though I'm struggling. However, the new research has prompted me to be honest with myself and recognize that having an SPD isn't like professing that I'm infected and contagious, which is how I initially see things like this. I'm not broken, just a little unorganized. Adults with SPD have fewer difficult challenges than children, chiefly because we can choose to avoid situations and things that might irritate us. For instance a child who has a hypersensitivity to sound (auditory processing disorder) will be continually anxious and will seek to avoid large, loud crowds. The child, however, has to go to school, ride a bus, etc. and doesn't have the choice to avoid some of the crowds that irritate. An adult can choose to avoid noisy restaurants or parties, etc., and so has an easier time with limited anxiety.

Watching little D struggle sometimes with change, makes me wonder how much of what he is enduring now will be 'fixed' by the steps of early intervention we are taking. I know he is already benefiting from what we have done so far, the question is, to what extent will the help carry him through? As an adult with SPD, I can look back on my life and I recognize why I had certain behaviors, why I avoided church activities, birthday parties, sports, etc. Even now, I often find myself turning in circles in the grocery store looking around for a flashing sign to tell me where the cereal is. Whenever there is too much going on within my line of sight, I have a problem organizing the information. This makes more sense when you realize, as I had not fully realized before, that SPD is a nervous system problem. The nerves which control certain senses are sending incorrect signals to the brain, which then interprets the signal and offers an inappropriate response. I struggle with visual discrimination. When there is more visual stimuli, the nerves that process vision click on hyper-drive and send an over-reactive signal to my brain, causing me to get confused in large places, large crowds or copying anything from one source to another (i.e. math problem off the school board to my notebook). Those are just a few examples that I can think of off hand. The example which constantly annoys my husband involves me starting to clean the kitchen by picking up dirty towels and rags to take to the laundry room. On the way I find another towel and some clean clothes, oh and there's Little D's shoe I was looking for. I better put the towels down in the hallway to put the shoe away. In Little D's room I find more clothes on the floor so I pick those up, but first I need to change his sheets, and oh, look at his closet. Those shelves need to be reorganized, but first I'll take his toothbrush back to the bathroom... etc., etc. You get the idea. My eyes keep seeing thing after thing after thing that need to be finished, and since I can't determine what needs to be done first, nothing ever gets done. I really REALLY have to force my mind to focus on only one task, or else...... just, or else.

 Little D has an oral processing disorder, so for him, normal oral stimuli are not enough. When my son eats, say chicken nuggets, the nerve endings in his tongue do not register the flavor of the food. It tastes more bland to him than to a normal person, so adding a condiment, like ketchup, gives his nerve endings more stimulation, which in turn, calms his brain down. Now his nerves are getting a more stimulating response, sending that to the brain which then can more appropriately interpret the information.

I guess the best news about the research I am doing is that SPD is all but curable. There will always be issues and struggles associated with it and things might change as hormones fluctuate like during puberty or pregnancy (for me), but with some good therapy, any person, adult or child, who suffers from SPD can become desensitized enough to have a more close to normal life. For now, I'll just continue helping little D and when I find things that will help myself, I'll try them out. I will be sure to report my findings here because, like everything, I know I'm not the only one.

Thanks for reading. I realize I'm not the most entertaining writer out there, but I hope you feel that what I write is from the heart, because it is. It hasn't been easy for me, particularly because I know close family members read this and often call or message me to comment on what I've put here. I wasn't counting on so much close feedback, which to be honest is a little unnerving. It's not what is said or even who says it or how often. It's that I know that something I wrote, something deeply intimate and private, is now public information and the comments are a reminder of the vulnerable situation I have put myself into. I trust that my personal thoughts and feelings now made public will not be given out in vain. Here is a simple plea. Please treat my thoughts, ramblings though they may be, with the utmost respect as you would your most precious thoughts, your diary even. I'm not saying not to share this blog, by all means do. I'm just saying, please be kind to me and my family when you share.

1 comment:

  1. Mother L, this is interesting information. It is close to sensory deficit of the elderly. Many older people get overwhelmed with too much stimuli, like going to the Mall where there are lots of people and colors and signs and noise and movement, etc., and this causes them to become confused, disoriented or even frightened. They may hide it by sitting down for a while or going into a store to be out of the fray, or they may loose their sense of direction and orientation and wander for hours trying to find their way back to their car.

    This has been used as an illustration of what senile dementia or Alzheimer's Disease is like. Now, before you get scared and think that that is what is happening to you, remember that this condition in the elderly is caused by a different mechanism, and is only similar to what you have described.

    When the elderly get lost in the cleaning process, it isn't because they don't know what to do first, or get distracted from too much input, they just can't remember what they set out to do. For them, the thought is gone so they just do what they see at the moment. for example, while cooking dinner, LDU a senior that you know, will turn on the kitchen faucet to clean some vegetable, turn to cut the vegetable, put it in the pot then go to the water cooler to get a drink of water then feel tired so she wanders off to her room to sit down in her favorite chair. She may be there for an hour then come back to the kitchen and wonder who turned on the faucet.

    Re-patterning and conditioning can't restore memory function in the ridged neuro-pathways of the elderly, so they are stuck with constantly dealing with these issues. To prevent this for them starts by staying active in body and mind so the brain stays active and supple. Those who just sit in the easy chair and watch TV are doomed to become victims of senility. Those who read, stay socially active and involved in many activities will be less likely to suffer.

    From what you are writing here, the children and adults with SPD can take steps to correct the issues, or at least limit the effects so that they can live a normal life. They have hope, whereas the elderly who sit and become solid in the brain become almost fossilized in these behavior patterns.

    Now after all of that, I may be all wrong.



Add your two cents here. Have an idea for a post? Let me know. I welcome creative inspiration in all its forms.