I’ve always felt worlds apart from everybody else. I’m described as ‘special’ and ‘different’ because I have SPD and don’t fit the generic stereotype of a normal 21 year old girl.
Why should I conform? Yes I hate parties, I don’t drink alcohol, I’ve never stepped inside a club and I prefer to go to bed before midnight. That’s normal to me. That’s my everyday life and it’s my choice.
Yeah I have sensory overloads and meltdowns and can’t explain why all the time. I’ve been asked ‘so what if I waved a magic wand and your SPD went away?’ I just simply reply ‘then I wouldn’t be me’. So don’t be afraid. Don’t be normal. Just be you.
I hear this a lot:
- ‘She’s not really in the room’
- ‘She is away with the fairies’
- ‘She’s switched off’
That she happens to be me. And it might describe you as well? I tend to ‘switch off’ in busy or loud environments and I can be quite difficult to talk to. Many people I know/who know about me find this hard to understand. However for me it is almost like there’s a traffic jam in my head… and then I crash like a computer does that hasn’t been shut down properly. That’s my way of coping, to zone out and try and block out the noise.
I can’t think properly or straight when there are noises so if I’m trying to write, study, revise, think, etc I use these great noise cancelling headphones: http://www.edzkidz.co.uk/Kids_Ear_Defenders_Blue they are so noise cancelling that you can’t hear hardly anything its like being in your own bubble! I also take them to loud events like concerts and firework shows (all fireworks should be silent in my opinion!). I also wear earphones when I’m travelling on public transport because that makes me feel in my own little world and I can either play my own music from my phone or just put my earphones in and have no music playing anda slightly more quieter journey!
What coping methods do you use when it comes to loud or busy events? I’d be super interested to hear any so I can trial them too!
Image credit: special_needs_parents instagram account
I was bought the fantastic Innoo Tech LED Star Night Light Projector Lamp (available to buy here) and it has been the best sensory present I’ve had in a while! It can be plugged into a USB mains plug or can be a standalone unit with batteries inside it. I up to my bedroom and plug it in next to me and my entire room fills with stars across my ceiling and walls. Its super therapeutic and calming to lie under. The unit has two modes – gold stars or a changing colour star mode – I tend to stick with the golden star mode as the colourful mode is quite jazzy! Its inexpensive at around £7.99 and I highly recommend it.
I’m officially 21 tomorrow (see my first post in order to understand this!) and another year has gone by and I’ve coped/survived in the sensory world! Im not great with birthdays as I don’t like all the attention to be on me. I also absolutely hate surprises, and yes I know that’s weird but I guess that’s just me. So my birthday always tends to be a tiring and overwhelm me sensory wise.
I used to hate parties as a child and I still do to this day – I tend to avoid them at all costs! I also don’t drink alcohol as I really hate the taste of it so I look like an utter party pooper but really I just can’t cope with the loud noises, bright lights, people touching up against me, weird smells and foods on offer that I can’t eat. This makes me a complete nightmare to take out anywhere but this is how I am and if you feel the same you aren’t the only one.
Do you find social situations, gatherings and parties a nightmare? What coping methods do you use? ( I find escaping to the nearest toilets to calm down and be in my own space works well!) And relax – you are not alone! 😉
DIY: Sensory Box! I have created my own sensory box (using a black shoebox) which I have crammed full of objects to help me when I’m having a sensory overload. So below is an explanation of all the objects in the photo:
- Round Spikey Hoop: Gives good sensory feedback can be squeezed and turned inside out repeatedly which is quite therapeutic.
- OT Putty: I haven’t used this in a while but it was given to me when I was younger by my Occupational Therapist. I HATE playdoh so putty is the only alternative for me its particularly good for de-stressing.
- Stress Balls: I find these work best when in a coat pocket – good for if you are in a crowded or noisy place you can just squeeze on them in your pocket discreetly.
- Water Filled Chew Toy: Yes, its a baby toy. But its really effective in calming me down when I get home with a sensory overload.
- Rescue remedy pastilles: also come as a chewing gum which I’ve just found out (going to try them soon I think!) Find the pastilles here http://www.bachflower.com/bach-rescue-pastilles/
- Odaban: I suffer from hyperhydrosis which literally just means excessive sweating (not cool) so I get particularly sweaty hands and feet when anxious. Odaban come in an antiperspirant spray, hand cream and foot powder and aims to stop excessive and unwanted sweatiness. Get it here: http://www.odaban.com/products/antiperspirant-spray/
- Random twist ball: Can be twisted inside and out changing from green to orange in colour. I find it therapeutic!
- Awesome iPhone Case: This is a normal iPhone case but on the back has an integrated maze which provides excellent distraction in busy or overwhelming situations. Get it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/thumbsUp-Maze-Case-protective-mobile/dp/B00JJIAOKA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431429339&sr=8-1&keywords=iphone+maze+case
- Ankle weights: These are great for when my sensory problems are getting on top of me – they work a bit like a weighted blanket and are soothing. I wear them round the house.
- Random ruler: This doesn’t really work as a ruler but it folds up into a little stack and I find it a nice distraction.
- Twisty Blocks: Again a bit like the ruler its tactile and keeps my hands busy.
- Tic Tac Box: I love flipping the lids up and down on these things (try not to do it near friends or family they can find it particularly irritating as I found it…)
- Home made lap weighted blanket: My mum is awesome, she made this weighted blanket for my lap which I can use when sitting. It’s definitely much cheaper than buying from a retailer. My mum used metal washers threaded along the inside of the material to create the weights.
- Fibre optic light: You can pick these up super cheap and they are just amazing. I love using it before bed to light up my room.
If you have SPD or sensory problems and, like me, want to know more about it and what has worked for others here are some ace books on the topic:
- ‘Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight’ by Sharon Heller. One of the first books I read and although based on children does feature a section on relationships which is quite helpful.
- ‘The Out-Of-Sync Child’ by Carol Kranowitz. Again obviously another book based on children but useful and in-depth case studies.
- ‘Answers to questions teachers ask about sensory integration’ by Carol Kranowitz. I’ve used this book throughout primary and secondary school to give to teachers who just didn’t understand my difficulties. It includes checklists that you can fill out so the book does the describing as soon as you give it to someone.
- ‘The Out-Of-Sync Child Has Fun’ again by Carol Kranowitz (clearly she knows her stuff!) this is a spin off to her other book but is full of awesome activities to satisfy the sensory person. Aimed at the 5 senses it targets fulfilling sensory needs.
- ‘Living Sensationally – Understanding your Senses’ By Winnie Dunn. More of a grown up book about dealing with your senses.
All of the above books are available on amazon.co.uk
Exam season is just around the corner and although I’m at uni and luckily don’t have any exams this year (the whole reason why I picked my course – I’m a coursework lover) I know how stressful it can be and thought I would pass on some exam tips for coping sensory-wise in exam conditions.
- RESCUE REMEDY! I totally swear by this stuff – you can get it in pastille and liquid form and its super soothing and calming. Its essentially a flower remedy that you suck or drop on your tongue and its kinda magic I think. Read about it here: http://www.bachflower.com/rescue-remedy-information/ and you can buy it from all decent pharmacies 😉
- Brushing. I found using an OT brush on my arms and legs with deep pressure worked really well to calm me down. Also I’ve tried baby chew toys which were useful for de-stressing when I was tense. Google the ‘Wilbarger Therapressure Brush’ thats the one I use.
- High Energy Activities. Try to tire yourself out the night before by going for a walk, swim, jog, whatever! Anything that gets your mind of the exam and makes you more sleepy and more likely to drift off quicker.
- Don’t talk about your exam afterwards. Don’t talk to your friends about your exam afterwards it will only make you more worried. Think positively to yourself that ‘that exam is in the past’ and focus on the next one.
- Weighted Blanket. Also I swear by these too – initially they are quite expensive but I’ve had mine for years and they are super calming. I literally pop mine on top of my duvet (you can put it in a duvet cover if you prefer) and sleep the whole night with it on. Instant calm restored… See them here: http://www.rompa.com/southpaw-weighted-blanket-standard.html
- Take time. Read and Re-read the question and use all the time you are given. I used to get 25% extra time in exams due to my difficulties and I used to sit my exams in a smaller room either on my own or with 3 or 4 other people. Ask your school, uni, etc if this is possible as it really benefitted me. There was less noise and no interruptions.
- Eat well. Eat before an exam and take a bottle of water in with you, this will help your blood sugar levels from dipping – when I don’t eat enough I find I’m irritable and can’t concentrate very well.
- Dress sensibly. I recommend wearing layers that are easy to take on and off – you don’t want to get too hot or too cold in an exam hall,etc. I always get freezing cold hands and feet so I make sure I wear warmer stuff! Also check before the exam starts you haven’t got a wobbly table – that used to drive me mad…
- Just do your best. Thats all anybody can ask of you. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. And if you have any problems in an exam or feel you can’t cope pop your hand up. All my exam invigilators were super caring and understand if you don’t feel well or can’t cope.
- Reward yourself! You just did an exam go treat yourself 🙂
‘Believe in yourself and magic will happen’
Here are a few of my sensory problems (might as well get them out in the open!)
- I hate light touch – all about deep pressure and weighted blankets for me!
- I can’t stand anything or anybody going near my neck – don’t ask me why I have literally no idea…
- I hate hate hate loud and noisy environments – I’m almost 21 and I’ve never stepped foot in a club.
- In restaurants I find it so noisy that I can’t tell if I’m full or not when I’m eating (messes with my senses).
- I’m not a great fan of strong scents like perfumes, soaps, etc. I stick to the same shampoo and washing detergent 24/7.
- I’ve only had my hair cut once at a hairdressers. It didn’t go well. So my mum trims my hair and it’s been the same style for years!
- I can’t wear flip flops. Even the word makes me cringe let alone putting something between your toes!!!!
- I hate new clothes and new shoes it takes me forever to get round to wearing new things as I don’t want to ruin them or get them dirty and I never know when to wear them. I love second hand charity shop clothes though (after being washed with my detergent of course).
- I’m a ridiculously picky eater. I don’t like the taste of meat and I don’t eat fish so I’m not doing great on finding my source of protein….
- And finally I hate sand. Drives me nuts. Even though I love the sea.
So what sensory problems do you cope with everyday? I’ve shared a few of mine above but I’m pretty sure my list is neverending in reality! I think we’ve all just got our own quirks 😉
Im actually 20, but 21 in 5 days time….
A bit of background on me: I have Sensory Processing Disorder, a nice bit of OCD, apparently severe Dyslexia and I generally feel my brain has been wired differently to the rest of the human kind. Bit of a statement rather than an intro but bear with me. I wanted to start a blog for these reasons:
- All sensory processing disorder blogs are U.S based
- All sensory processing blogs are based either around toddlers or young children
What happened to all those sensory kids who grew up but didnt grow out of their sensory problems? Thats why Im starting this blog. Im UK based and I want to make a difference. I want to encourage discussion – how do you cope with your sensory problems? Are you struggling through secondary school, uni, work, whatever? I want to actively encourage people to share their coping mechanisms with one another. I know one other person with sensory problems. Thats one other person in the entire world. Theres got to be more people out there?
You don’t have to have Sensory Processing Disorder (formly know as Sensory Integration Dysfunction) to comment and discuss on this blog. Even if you have sensory problems as a result of something else or have Autism, Aspergers, etc the more the merrier!