From The Archives: How Sensory Processing Disorder Effect Social Interaction

Photo from Pixaby.com

( This post originally appeared on my old site on 8-26-2014. Enjoy!)

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!

Songstress- Years to perfect!

Just the front cover

In October I released my first CD under the title Songstress. A few days before the release, I was blown away by the fact that it was finally finished. I had been working on Songstress for more than 4 years. Dreaming, hoping, and working hard against every obstacle.

Because I don’t want to be prideful or arrogant, I tend to avoid praising my work, but I need to be honest with you all, just as I was honest with myself in October.

I am proud of my CD!

When the dream of making a CD first began to form in my heart, I was about seventeen and had been writing songs for two years. I dreamed of creating a CD with complex instrumentation, using all the instruments I was gathering in my little bedroom.

I wanted to create music that hearkened back to the great days of music from the 60’s and 70’s. Yet, music that was uniquely “me” as well.

So after trying tons of different recording gear without success, trying a recording studio, and seeking in vain the help from experts, I turned to another route: independent music production.

For those who aren’t familiar with this route let me explain… It is not just fun and games. It is not doing your own “thing” and throwing together something quickly. It takes time, hard work, LOTS of reading, and some funding to even start in the right direction. Then one must try, and retry, and re retry. It’s especially hard when you are doing it without a college degree in recording (something I couldn’t afford).

But I was home-schooled as a child and one thing that experience taught me was that learning something isn’t easy and sometimes you have to be your own professor.

So after I graduated from high-school and realizing that college was out of the question, I started borrowing every book I could get from the library. I read tons of online articles… and with some money I had received from my grandmother, I invested in a recording program called ProTools MP.

But it wasn’t until at least 4 years later that Songstress came to be what it is today.

Now, I look back at those years of struggling. At all the tears, frustrations, and triumphs, I realize that it makes Songstress more sweet to my ears.

Every time I hear the songs on Songstress, I still can’t believe they sound as good as they do.

I know, it sounds like boasting, doesn’t it? But compared to my earlier attempts, it is the truth.

Yet, still I can’t take all the credit either… I know that my Lord helped me a lot in creating a CD that goes beyond my hopes and dreams. He helped me through all the struggles, gave me the courage to go on, and the wisdom to understand all that I was learning.

Yes, it was a team effort… and a team creates better things than a single person does.

So what do you get out of Songstress and this post? I guess it’s up to you. I just can’t keep my joy I feel for Songstress inside any longer.

If you want to share in the joy too, feel free to listen to Songstress on Spotify or purchase the CD in my store.

God bless!

My Yesterday Effects My Today- Living With Sensory Processing Disorder.

All day today I have felt confused, run off my feet, and anxious. Only minutes ago I felt sad and overwhelmed, and I broke out crying for, really, no reason. It’s not that I’ve been unusually busy today. On the contrary. I really haven’t had more to do today than usual. So, why do I feel this way?

Then I remember: I did have a very busy weekend. I helped move some stuff at a friends house and I did a lot of cleaning. I also went to church, hung out with a friend and had a movie night with a bunch of friends…. yes… I have been busy.

calendar-612420_1280

You see, my yesterday effects my today.

If you struggle with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD for short) you’ve probably noticed that if you are triggered by something it can throw your whole day out of whack, but do you realize that it can possibly effect tomorrow and the next day.

I call it the tumbling effect. If you don’t take time to stop an avalanche at the top of the hill, it will be harder to stop it later on.

When I do a lot of stuff in a few days, it doesn’t allow much time for my body to recover. So eventually it starts catching up with me to the point that the tumbling effect alone will trigger a meltdown/overload.

We who have SPD have to face the reality that we’re not “normal”. We have Special Needs and are slightly disabled by them.

I need more sleep during the night because my body is worn out more by my everyday.

I need more down time than most because my body not only wears out easily but can’t recover easily.

I can’t handle doing a lot of things at once because my brain gets overwhelmed by doing too much.

Little things like the lights around me, the sound of the cars, the neighbors upstairs, etc can tire me out, more than I realize.

“But,” many SPDer’s say, “My life/people around me require more than I can give?”

Oh, how true that statement is.

I know our lives don’t always fit well with our special needs/SPD. My life certainly doesn’t. I need to earn a living. I want to help my friends. I need to be there for my family.

Part of having SPD is realizing you have limitations… I know a nasty word in this generation. But allow me to quote my slogan:

“Adapting dreams, to work within limitations.”

We need to work within our limitations.

To not be a hermit who stays cuddled in our bedroom all the time, but someone who wisely says YES enough to move forward and help others, but also someone who says NO enough to give our bodies the recovery time it needs.

It’s a balancing act that we all have (even those who don’t have SPD). Don’t ever expect to be perfectly balanced either. There will be off days, like I had today. But there will also be good days too if you allow room for your limitations.

 

 

 

From The Archives: I Am Not a “Normal” Kid- Growing Up With Sensory Processing Disorder and Not Knowing It.

This post first appeared on my old website (annettanesler.wordpress.com). So since I will be/or have moved to my new website, I thought you all might enjoy reading it! This was originally posted 7-17-2014.


Me at age 6 in a Ball Pit

The first thing that I said when I found out I had SPD was, “You mean I’m not crazy?!”

When I was a child I often thought I was going mad… literally.  Things that seemed normal to other people were completely overwhelming for me because felt like I was under constant attack from all my senses.  I felt like screaming, running away, anything to escape the enemy that surrounded me.

But that wasn’t madness, that was Sensory Processing Disorder.

It’s true a lot of people think that those who have SPD are crazy, but SPD is a real condition.

Sensory Processing Disorder is basically our brain having communication problems with our senses.  Our brain misunderstands “normal” sensations as being offensive, alarming, and/or painful and reacts in a fight or flight response.

Activities like going grocery shopping, eating at a restaurant, or going to a local fair is frightening because we take in every sensation, 150%.

I am twenty-one years old and I have lived my whole life with SPD, but when I was kid no one around me knew it even existed.

I remember as a kid being terrified of Dodge Ball.  Balls flying at you, people yelling and running around you… it was like being in a war zone for me.

That’s not normal to be scared of Dodge Ball.  Sure you can not like playing the game, but to be scared of it?

So instead of joining in with my friends, I stood on the sidelines feeling alone and strange.

My life was confusing, discouraging, and my senses were stunted because I didn’t know I had SPD.

It is alarming how many people know nothing about SPD.  When people are asked about Autism, MS, or Down Syndrome, most have some idea of what they are or have at least heard of them.

But ask them if they have heard of SPD and you’ll get a blank stare.

This is sad because lack of awareness means that there are people out there, like me, who don’t even know that this is an issue in their lives.  Without that knowledge, we unknown SPDers suffer from loneliness because we think we are the only ones who experience life this way, when in reality there is a great community of SPD peeps who experience the exact same things as you do.

SPD is something that can be and needs to be treated, but we can’t treat something that we don’t know about or choose to ignore.

I wish I had known that I had SPD before I was twenty-one.  If I had gone through proper therapy when I was a kid and had used sensory tools to help my SPD, maybe I wouldn’t have to wear noise canceling headphones in restaurants.  Maybe I wouldn’t have such low self-esteem?

But I am not saying all this to make you feel sorry for me.  No, I am saying this because it is never too late or too early to start facing SPD.  We need to be aware of SPD symptoms, seek understanding, and occupational therapy.

If you have a child, keep an eye on him/her and don’t be afraid of the possibility of SPD being a part of your child’s life.  He/she may not be able to tell you what he/she is feeling, but that doesn’t make SPD any less of a possibility!

Don’t allow another person or child to be like me.  Raise awareness about SPD today!