What is the problem? Is there a problem? What is a problem?
Interesting question that. Is autism a problem? Is ADHD a problem? I don’t think they are. They have far more positives than negatives for H.
Sensory processing? Now that’s a different story all together. That’s a problem, a big problem. But why? Think about when your senses come into play and how they affect your day. I bet you get irritated by a certain sounds, screeching kids, people eating next to you, music that isn’t to your taste stuck on in the background. I bet you there are tastes that you don’t like, burnt toast, mushrooms, garlic? Do you get annoyed by certain textures, do you steer clear on wool or satin because you don’t like the feel of it on your skin. Do you cut labels out of your clothes? How about what you see? Do you wince at bright, artificial lights? or struggling to see in dim light gives you headaches? Do yucky smells make you feel sick? or put you off your food sometimes?
Now imagine all of those things are happening all at once. In fact I like to liken SPD to having the worst PMT on top of a banging hangover, multiplied by 10, every day, all day. Would that be a problem for you? I bet it would!!!
Sensory processing disorder is so undervalued as a barrier to learning and succeeding. It’s often just pigeon holed as something that can be alleviated by a quick 5 min OT session, or by giving someone a fiddle toy. But it’s not as easy as that. Below is a typical day for H, lets see how her SPD can be a problem.
6-6.30am Wake up, get dressed, have breakfast.It’s quiet at that time in the morning, only H and her dad so noise isn’t an issue. But she has to brush her hair (torture) and put on a scratchy uniform. She HAS to eat breakfast, even though food at that time in the morning makes her feel sick.
6.30- 7am Cuddle time with me. She likes this bit, sensory seeking H snuggles in bed with me with soft toys, until she thinks my is too hot and she does’t want to touch me any more.
7-7.30am S wakes up, this can go either way. If H is in a sensory seeking mood it gets a bit bonkers with loud, fun shouting and games, if she is sensory averse that day she hides in her room and we have to be careful what we do and say. You don’t get any warning about which it will be.
7.30 – 8.15 Going to school on the bus. Pushing, shoving, jeerky bus that can break down at any moment. A bus full of smelly teenagers talking loudly. Not the best start to the day!
8.15-3.15 School. Sweaty classrooms, noisy corridors full of pushing and shoving, carrying heavy bags. Classrooms that smell of different people and things, bright artificial lights, food in the canteen that she doesn’t like, Teachers that talk too loud, too quiet, too fast, too slow, a different language.
3.15 – 4pm Bus ride home. Ditto to above.
4pm -6pm Home, quiet time if possible. Recover from the day.
6-7pm Dinner time. Sometimes she won’t eat her dinner because she doesn’t like the smell, or it looks funny. These are genuince concerns, not her behaving like a spoily brat. She likes watching the TV at dinner, but if you talk at the same time that can really irritate her as it is too much noise. If you clear the table while she is in the room she doesn’t like the sound of the cutlery and plates banging and scraping so that can put her off her food. That’s why it sometimes takes an hour to eat!
7-10pm Quiet time. Attempting to regulate everything from the day so she is calm enough to sleep!
The majority of the issues H has to deal with on a day to day problem is SPS (sensory processing disorder) not her autism or ADHD. Don’t get me wrong, they do present problems of their own, taking things literally, being rigid in her thinking, struggling to concentrate to name the major ones. But all of these could be dealt with a lot easier if SPD was not there. It can have a serious effect on her happiness, security, self esteem and her learning. Please take some time to understand this condition and learn how you can help the people around you that may have it.