Understanding Sensory Issues

One of my favorite bloggers, Hartely’s Life With 3 Boys, asked the question, “Do YOU Have Sensory Issues?” My answer is Oh Yes!Until a few years ago when “Buddy” was being diagnosed with Aspergers, I literally thought that my nerves were somehow closer to the skin’s surface than other people’s. I know that sounds impossible and IS impossible, but what else could be the answer?

My mom used to tell me that when I was really little, I would cry if my hands were dirty. I couldn’t continue playing until they were clean. I also had long, easily-tangled hair. It always felt as though my mom was yanking my hair out every time she brushed it. I would just cry and as I got older, she would just tell me that I needed to grow up. She believed that I was just overreacting or something. I don’t blame her or anything. She did not know what I know now.

We were fairly poor when I was growing up and that usually meant hand-me-downs or whatever was cheap or on sale. Unfortunately back then, that seemed to often mean polyester! I HATE the feel of polyester! I’m sure others without sensory issues might as well, but it literally felt like I was being actively tortured when made to wear it. My skin felt like it was crawling with millions of itchy bugs. I had an extremely hard time concentrating on anything while in polyester. It seemed that the slacks were trying to literally drive me crazy. Now looking back…how did I learn ANYTHING on the days I had to wear that?

I also have a major issue to this day with having anything on my hands or even just a damp spot somewhere on my skin. I love to cook and often like to make meatballs or meatloaf. These take getting your hands all gooey with raw meat, raw eggs, etc…….. YUCK! I have gotten myself to be able to handle it long enough to get the job done. Then…..It needs to get thoroughly off immediately!

Now that I know that I have Sensory Integration Disorder, I don’t feel “weird”. I know that there is a reason for my feeling this way and I am not just “being a baby.”

This also inspires me to try to help other parents understand what their children are actually feeling. I have a couple of friends who have children who seem to have SID, but otherwise show no signs of any special needs. I want their parents to see why they are acting the way they are and how they may make it easier on the child and themselves.

Accepting a diagnosis (whether officially or not) can make life easier for the parent and the child. I don’t see a diagnosis as something terrible that should be avoided. I see it as explaining why someone does what they do, so you can better address the issues. For example: knowing that my son’s tantrums are actually Aspie meltdowns gives me a better way to deal with it. His meltdowns are started with over-stimulation and/or being too tired or hungry. That is very different than just being defiant and will effectively be dealt with in much different ways. (Check out Misconceptions About Aspie Meltdowns for more information about the differences between meltdowns and temper tantrums.)

I totally understand why children cannot concentrate while being over-stimulated. Think about something that just gives you chills up your back…like fingernails on a chalkboard. Now, imagine that constantly being done for an hour without a break. Could you concentrate on ANYTHING? Probably not. That is what someone with Sensory Issues has to deal with daily.