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.