How Can I Date When I Have Sensory Processing Disorder?

How can I date Post

If you’re a young adult with Sensory Processing Disorder you’ve probably asked this question a dozen times:

How can I date when I have Sensory Processing Disorder?

How can I get close to someone when I have to wear noise canceling headphones in every restaurant? How can someone respect me if I can’t drive very far away or can’t drive at all? How would someone handle my sensory tools, my brain fog, my frustration at the most normal things… the list goes on.

Honestly, the real question we’re asking is: Am I lovable, despite all this junk.

When I’m dealing with my SPD, I often feel unlovable, strange, and alone. I wouldn’t wish SPD on my worst enemy. I see what it does to me, how could I ask a boyfriend to put up with the effects it has on me?

And yet, just recently I suddenly found myself in the world of dating and I began to realize something wonderful:

That dating is not only possible, but my SPD makes dating a little more special.

Why? You ask.

With SPD in my life I can’t put up a charade. I have to be me and I know that is very hard, but it is very important to developing relationships.

People want to put up an act that everything is alright. Our culture has fed us the line of: “you have to be perfect or no one will like you.” But the truth is, that line is a lie! Be yourself, because you can’t ignore who you are forever.

It’s amazing how special it is to build a dating relationship on honesty instead of lies.

By being yourself, you begin growing something that goes deeper than the top soil of most relationships; developing something very special.

It’s true that being yourself makes one feel very vulnerable… “What if no one likes who I am?”

If they don’t like who you are, then the question is- “is that you’re problem or theirs?” -Because if that person likes you, they are going to have to like all of you, SPD included.

Sensory Processing Disorder is hard. There will be limitations, draw backs, frustrations and heartache. But you know what? Those words also describe life.

Everyone experiences all those things, perhaps not as often as we do, but they still experience them.

How can I date QuoteWe may have Sensory Processing Disorder, but that doesn’t make us completely different from the rest of the world.

It’s the person who sees that life is hard for everyone (whether you have SPD or not) and decides to reach into that junk who is worth dating.

But there’s more…

SPD allows me to treasure the small things and to develop the important things. Because everyone wants to be known. Even the one your dating wants to be appreciated for who they really are.

Having SPD gives you the eyes to see past the surface and to love them for who they really are.

So, yes! It is possible for you to date, because there is more to you than your SPD and there are people out there willing to see past the sensory junk to the true beauty within. Don’t give up. Keep living, keep expanding your world, and being the special person you are!

Learning to Trust Others With My Sensory Processing Disorder.

Learning to Trust header picture

I am scared of letting people into my world because I am afraid of how people will respond to my Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

I wonder how people will respond to my noise canceling headphones that I wear in restaurants, or when I cover my ears after their silverware squeaks softly on their plate.

I hate my world and how I respond to the little things that are normal for everyone else. Living with SPD causes me to be very aware of my limitations and struggles more than most. My natural response (even to those I love) is to draw back from them rather than trusting them with my limitations.

As I saw this reality in my life, I began to see that my lack of trust limits my world. That it captures me in my own fear of rejection and I saw that I had created my own chains.

How can I be free?– A question I asked myself a year ago.

How do I break these chains. Because I see that it doesn’t just effect my life, but it effects my family, my friendships, my boyfriend, my relationship with God… I needed to be free.

But freedom comes with a price.

Learning to trust others, means you have to allow people opportunities to have you trust them.

I have to make the first move and put my headphones on in their presence. I need to admit that I need an arm or a cane to steady my balance and take out my Koosh ball to ground me while I’m with others… I had to step out of my comfort zone and let people in. I had to admit I needed help, support, and comfort. To face the reality that I couldn’t handle everything!

Learning to Trust etc quote picture

This was hard!

What if I reached out and no one reaches back? What if I open my heart to someone and they end up crushing it?

It was a chance I had to take.

There will be those who will hurt you and respond to your SPD by drawing back and acting awkward around you. But the more I allowed people into my world, the more I realized that there are a lot more people who care than people who turn away.

As I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found friends, I started dating, and I felt more myself than ever before! Not just because I had people I could trust, but because I began to allow myself to be free.

It’s not easy. I still struggle to trust and probably will struggle with it for the rest of my life, but everyday God is teaching me to trust more and more.

The chains are gone from my hands and now they are free to trust and to help those around me.

I am free now!

Part 1 Sensory Tools Explained- Fidget (tactile or touch) Sensory Tools and Toys

Intro:

Whether you are trying to improve your own SPD, or that of a loved one, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the different sensory tools available.

Why are there so many? Which ones help which sensory system? Why does squeezing a Koosh or puffer ball help? Why does my child like this action or that sensation?”

As someone with SPD, I can give you the inside view into why these tools help and hopefully eliminate some of this confusion.

It’s true I have written a blog about Sensory Tools before, but in this series, I’m doing something different. I’m dividing the sensory tools into categories, instead of a list of specific tools, and I’ll explain how and why these tools help our SPD.

Sensory tools blog 1 header

 

Category 1: Fidget (tactile or touch) Sensory Tools.

The truth is we all like to fidget a little with our hands- people doodle on paper, fiddle with a paperclip, rub their hair between their fingers, etc- but they don’t NEED to fidget. For those with SPD, we need to fidget to function properly.

Fidgeting centers our brain, because it gives us the tactile (touch) stimulation our brain needs to focus and it grounds us.

  • Grounding explained

Hang on a minute! What’s do you mean by “it grounds us?”

People with well functioning sensory systems don’t even realize that their senses help steady their mind and body in space. Without the sense of touch, taste, sight, etc the world would be unreal to us. As if we were in a dream world, about to drift off into space any second.

When those with SPD say, “I need to be grounded” it means that our senses are not functioning well enough to make us feel real. Reality becomes like a dream world. We start feeling like we’re about to float away (like a balloon floating just above the ground). We get dizzy and light headed, and our limbs feel disconnected like a robotic entity (and honestly it’s as freaky to feel as it is to read)

But, through using sensory tools we can ease our brain and senses back down to earth. Sort of letting the air out of our sensory balloon and connecting us to the world around us.

So, when I squeeze my Koosh ball tightly or gently rock it in my hands, that sensation tells my brain, “yes, you’re alive and this is real.”

  • Sensory boredom explained

Another nKoosh Ball Film Collageot-so-fun part of SPD is Sensory Boredom. When my senses are bored, they start focusing on little things: Like the clock ticking in the corner or my own breathing. Normally these things are fine, but if my SPD’s not getting enough sensory stimulation, it can start reacting to these little things just because they’re there and it’s is on high alert.

Sensory Boredom can create a spiral of anxiety, hyperventilation, and nervousness if it’s not treated with sensory tools… and fidget tools are the best for this job!

(Sensory Boredom can also create a lack of concentration, which is why SPD peeps and kiddos need to have sensory tools handy to focus on schoolwork and other tasks)

  • Common Fidget Tools: Koosh Balls, Puffer Balls, Sand or Grain Activities Bins, CoreDisks, Smooth Stones, Soft Fur or Fabric, Tangle Toys, Rubber/stretchy Animals, etc.

Honestly, as a twenty-something, it’s embarrassing that I sometimes need to fidget to function properly (and I get some pretty strange looks), but what people need to realize is that my fidget tools are there to help me!

Excepting and encouraging the usage of sensory fidgets shows me you care.

So, fellow SPD peeps, know this: you’re not alone in your desire to fidget and it’s ok.

Don’t be afraid to give your body what it needs, because using sensory tools may be just what you need to expand your world!