How Sensory Processing Disorder Affects Social Interaction

Photo from Pixaby.com

If you have ever interacted in a social situation you understand that there are certain rules about what you say and what you don’t say. Most observe the social cues that dictate what is appropriate and what isn’t, but what if you were distracted? What if you had a loud rock band blaring into your ears, while a baby cries in your arms, while someone pokes you in the ribs and a light is flashing in your eyes?

Would you perceive those social cues? Would you understand what people are saying?

Or let me put it another way. What if you were in a foreign country. You understand the language a little, but not enough to understand everything people are saying. Would you have a hard time knowing when to speak and when not to speak? Would you have a hard time staying on the same topic or know what to say?

That is what it is like for many who have Sensory Processing Disorder. Basically, communication is not our forte.

Awkward!:

A while back, I had my whole family over to our smallish apartment (which amounts to about 11 people, two of those were children). We had gathered to celebrate three birthday’s that are very close together, one of those birthday’s was mine.

So one would think I would be ok interacting with these people, right? Wrong!

The children were very fidgety that evening, the amount of work and interacting I had done all that day was finally taking it’s toll, and my SPD was in overload!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love interacting with people, but because my senses were shouting, “danger Will Robinson…” I couldn’t focus on anything.

It was into all this that a gift to my little nephew appeared.

It was a small stuffed animal of the caterpillar from that famous book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. My overwhelmed brain suddenly registered that this stuffed animal was very cool and that I wanted one. So I started asking my cousin, who had given the gift to my nephew, dozens of questions, just seconds after the gift had appeared. Among the many I asked, one of them was, “How much did it cost you?”.

Oops! Did I really say that?

Suddenly my cousin got really quiet and pushed the conversation to the side.

What did I do? My brain was still in overload, and clearly didn’t see the mistake. Then suddenly, through the haze of my senses, it came to me.

How could I be so stupid to say something like that?! To ask how much a gift cost someone right in front of the gift receiver and everyone else in the room.

Where’s the undo button?

As much as you wish you could undo what you did… you can’t. All you can do is try to mend the damage.

I apologized to my cousin that evening and luckily she understood, but that doesn’t change the reality that SPD effects my social interactions.

Many people with SPD appear to be shy or introverted to the people around them. But if you asked them, they would probably tell you that they often don’t understand what is going on.

It’s not because they are not smart, but because they are unable to process what is being said or what is going on.

This can be because they are overwhelmed by the world around them and/or because their brains literally don’t understand the sensory information it is receiving.

So when you interact with someone with SPD, keep all this in mind. Maybe they don’t understand what is going on or don’t see social cues that you see.

Instead of judging them, help them. Instead of drawing away from them, try to understand them!

And to those who have SPD, take heart! I understand how it feels to say something or do something that you regret, or be unable to understand social cues.

Social interactions are confusing and discouraging at times, but you are not alone in this, and there are people out there that want to interact with you! Just be the best you that you can be!

Does Sensory Processing Disorder Have a Good Side?

When people look at me and see how much Sensory Processing Disorder effects my life, they see nothing but the bad side of SPD. They see the limitations, the restrictions, and the suffering.

Can anything good come from having SPD?

Saving a life through my SPD:

Hephzibah is Little!

All of my life I have been known for having incredible hearing. One of my big challenges with my SPD is the fact that I am super sensitive to noises. Ticking clocks drive me bonkers. Motorcycles and loud bass sounds create a fight or flight reaction.

But my hearing is also a mixed blessing.

One morning, as I was sitting on my bed doing my quiet time, I heard something so soft that most would never had heard it.

I heard the cry of cat.

Looking out my window into the small courtyard that lay just outside my bedroom, I tried to spy where the sound was coming from.

Was it one of our cats? I thought (we had two outdoor cats at the time). But no, this sound was different, it was the cry of distress… mournful, hopeless distress.

I flew off my bed, ignoring the fact that I was still in my PJ’s, and rushed through the house to the front door.

My mom watched me fly by in surprise, “What’s the matter?”

“I heard a small cat crying outside.” I replied, not fully understanding what was going on.

Did I really hear this sound, or was it my imagination? Was it worth going out into the cold fall air?

But I pushed back the thought, I had to see what had made that sound. I had to.

Pulling open the door, I quickly walked over to the courtyard and looked towards my bedroom window. There below my window lay a small kitten.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. A kitten under my window?

I walked over cautiously (you never know what stray cats might do when approached). The kitten remained still, laying on a few small stones.

Then the kitten gave out a small cry, the same cry I had heard in my bedroom.

I flew back into the house, unsure of what to do.

“Mom, there is a kitten under my window!”

She was very surprised and unsure what to think at first.

“Come quick, I think it’s dying!” I cried running back outside, with my mom at my heels.

I bent down to look closely at the kitten. Her fur was the purest white I had ever seen and her head had a little cap of gray fur. She made no sound and her breathing was so slow that you could barely see it.

“Pick it up gently and bring it over here,” my mom called.

Slowly, I stretched my hand out. It’s little body was so cold it felt like a furry board, but oh, her fur was the softest I had ever felt.

Carefully placing my hands around her, I picked her up and carried her back to the house. There was a long road ahead for this little kitten, but she was found and she was safe now.

Does Sensory Processing Disorder have a good side?

Eppy1

Yes it does.

If I hadn’t had spider-like hearing that kitten would have died.

Today that kitten has become our beloved Hephzibah (Eppy for short). She has grown from being a tiny little malnourished kitten to a healthy, energetic, and beautiful cat. I don’t know what I would do without her.

She taught me that everything that God has given us, including SPD, has been given to us for a reason. And I always try to remember that lesson! I hope you will do the same!

I am Weirdiful!- “Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful” Book Review

Me In The Ball Pit

Guessing time!

Where do you think I wrote this review?  In a chair, at a desk, on a bed? No, to all those answers.  I am writing this review while laying in a ball pit.

Now, that you know the answer, what do you think of me?… do you think I’m weird maybe?

Good.

That is exactly what Why Your Weirdness Is Wonderful by Laurie Wallin is all about: Pointing out the fact that we are weird, but our weirdness is wonderful!

When I first began reading this book, I was skeptical of what it had to say. Being confident in who you are, quirks and all, somehow didn’t seem right to me.

As Christians, we are taught that everything we do, that has any worth, is God working through us. In my mind that meant that I didn’t have any worth.

But instead of reinforcing that belief, Laurie Wallin put that idea on it’s head.

God created me with “Weird quirks” that are specifically for me and those quirks are something He treasures!

I have worth!

Unlike the temperament tests and the ‘find who you are’ books, this book doesn’t try to fit you into a pre-formed mold.  Instead, Laurie gives you tools to discover your unique quirks and how special you are.

I have spent so many years of my life thinking that my weird quirks (such as my ability to dream big or my nervous tics) were a bad thing.

How many of you have thought this way as well?

In this book, she points out that the word “Weird” in the original Greek is actually a good thing… a beautiful thing.

I have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD for short). It is easy to look at this piece of my personality and say, “This is a horrible thing!” It’s hard living with SPD, it’s lonely, and it’s makes you feel different from the rest of the people around you.

But instead I say, “This is a good thing!”

This book gave me the tools to embrace my SPD. It taught me to see that my SPD has a light side, just as much as it has a dark side. Through living with SPD, I have learned how to see people that many overlook. I hear things, see things, and feel things that a lot of people never even knew exist

But I have also learned that I have more to my personality than just un-useful quirks. I discovered that I have strong leadership talents through this book.  That I have taken on false quirks from other people that aren’t natural to my personality, and I have discovered why my quirks clash with other peoples quirks.

My life has been radically changed through this book and I have been able to explore my heart more than I ever thought possible.

So whether you are struggling with understanding your place in this world, or maybe you just want to know a little bit more about who God made you to be, this book is for you!

Laurie has been through the wringer. She has adopted children, had children of her own, and has had to make some serious decisions for her and her family. She knows how hard life can be and how hard it is to live out your quirks weirdifully. But in this book she shows her readers that it is possible to live in the light side!

I know the things Laurie has taught me through this book will keep coming back to me throughout my life… I hope you will be able to say the same?

Want to have your own copy of Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful?… check it out on Amazon.com.

Photo from Amazon.com

Photo from Amazon.com

 

From the Ashes Comes the Victories- Says the one that was lost.

Photo from Pixaby.com

Photo from Pixaby.com

The lights began to dim and the crowd around me began to take there seats once more.  I too took my seat, clutching my Koosh ball with my hands and my earplugs stuffed in my ears

“I can’t believe I am here,” I kept saying. “I can’t believe I am at an Andrew Peterson concert and actually enjoying myself.”

Just two years earlier I had been barely able to step out of my house let alone travel 65 miles away from my home.  I had been so weak that I couldn’t go from my bedroom to the bathroom without a walker or a cane.

I had often asked,”Will I ever leave this bed? Will I ever rise from the ashes of this life I am living?”

One night, while asking this, I looked out of my bedroom window and I saw a street lamp across the street glowing brightly in the darkness. How cheerful it looked, burning in the midst of all that darkness.

Then suddenly the light went out. My heart sunk at the sight and I thought, “Was that me? Was that my life?”

I began to pray and weep, crying out to God in my bitterness. Then, as suddenly as it went off, the light came back on once more and I felt God speak to my heart and say, “That is you. Your world may be dark now, but I will light it again.”

So here I was at an Andrew Peterson concert and I saw that those words were right.  God had restored me, but I also saw that He had given me more than what I had had before.

He opened my eyes and my heart to see things I had never seen.  He opened my eyes and helped me to embrace Sensory Processing Disorder in myself and to except my limitations.

“When the questions dissolve into the silence of God, the aching may remain, but the breaking does not.”~ Andrew Peterson, The Silence of God

Yes, I still ached. I still need Sensory Tools to help me deal with my SPD. I still felt the pain from my digestion problems in small amounts, and my energy is not as high as most my age, but the breaking had gone. My spirit inside of me was soaring.

In that moment, as I watched the concert and listened songs that pulsed with the message of redemption, I felt overwhelmed with thankfulness and I wept out of sheer joy!

God had lifted me out of the ashes. I knew Him. I could feel Him and He was wonderful!

 

From the ashes comes the victories

Says the one that was lost

In the depths of my wretchedness

My hearts ship was tossed

But you picked me up and told me of the love that you felt

And I could feel the chains in my heart begin to melt 

~

From the ashes comes the victories

Says the one that was lost!