I know that there is a lot of discussion nowadays about the possibility that children are being over-diagnosed with things that weren’t common “back in the old days” – stuff like ADD, ADHD, etc. I don’t have a strong opinion on one side or the other as of now, but I think that at least part of the increase in diagnoses is due to (at least from what I’ve seen) the increased communication between children and their parents in this modern society, as well as the recent advances of science and technology.
What Is SPD?
I’ve always known that something about me was just a little bit different from other people. My whole life, I’ve tried to avoid talking about it because of the reception I got as a child while trying to explain myself. Nobody understood what I was trying to tell them and I’m pretty sure they all just thought I was “weird.” Now that I’m an adult and can fully comprehend what is going on with my body and how to describe it to other people, I can finally come out and say that I have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
There are people with very strong cases of it, but (at least for me) having SPD really isn’t a huge deal. It’s not debilitating and it’s not dangerous. You would never even know unless I told you, or you happened to ask about something I’m doing that is just slightly off. But I do think it’s worth talking about.
Sensory Processing is defined as how, “…the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.” Sensory Processing Disorder is, “a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses.”
How My Life is Affected by SPD
Some children are affected by it so much that they can’t function in every day life because they have complete sensory overload. For me, SPD affects me in mainly two ways. (1) I can’t stand the feeling of my skin rubbing against fabric. I especially can’t stand the feeling of fabric rubbing against other fabric. Because of this, I refuse to wear socks on carpet, I have to resist the urge to demand that other people around me take off their socks when walking on carpet, and I have to sleep naked. I also have trouble drying myself off when I get out of the shower. (2) I cannot stand the feeling of having water on my skin unless I’m actively in the water. Showering is fine – but I need to wrap myself in a towel about 2 seconds after I turn the water off before I start freaking out. I have to have a towel right there when I get out of the water at the beach or I start to completely unravel. I also have to get in the shower as soon as I finish working out because even just the sweat on me is enough to trigger that response.
When I was a child, I remember trying to voice my discomfort to my parents on more than one occasion, but my aversions were always dismissed as me “whining” or “complaining.” Obviously, because I wasn’t screeching in terror and having a complete meltdown, it would’ve been very hard for my parents to recognize what was really going on, and I completely understand that. Since SPD hasn’t drastically affected my life, it’s not a huge deal that I wasn’t diagnosed as a child.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Because nobody ever responded to my “weirdness,” I didn’t recognize that I had this disorder until late in life, and honestly didn’t even know the name of it until very recently. I’ve always known that something was wrong, I just didn’t have a name for it until now.
The cause of SPD is unknown which also makes diagnosis hard. Treatment for SPD is usually some kind of occupational therapy. Because I’m not strongly affected by SPD, I won’t be seeking any treatment. I’ve learned how to live my life surrounded by fabric and evaporating water, and I’ve grown to embrace my “weirdness.”
I guess I wanted to bring this up because I felt misunderstood as a child. If you know somebody that complains about these types of problems and doesn’t understand what is going on, maybe SPD is the answer. Don’t prejudge somebody as “weird” just because they require immediate toweling after taking a dip!