I have been researching this topic for my own personal reasons, and I thought that there may be others out there who are struggling with the same issues I am. So, I decided I would share some of the information I learned on the subject.
Do you know what Sensory Processing Disorder is? I only recently learned what it is. “It is a unique spectrum of disorders impacting the way a person receives, integrates, or ‘processes’ incoming sensory information.” (spdlife.org) SPD is a disorder that can impact every aspect of your life. I know from experience.
Did you know that people who have been diagnosed with PTSD may also have SPD? According to my therapist, many people who have experienced trauma have sensory issues relating to specific aspects of the abuse they endured. For a long time, I confused SPD with autism. I thought that I might have asperger’s syndrome because many of the symptoms are very similar. Now, I know that I have PTSD and SBAD (sensory based anxiety disorder). For anyone who would like to learn more about SPD or SBAD visit SPD Life’s website. It is filled with numerous resources for adults who have SPD.
What are the symptoms of SPD? There are many checklists available online, but the one that most relates to adults with SPD can be found on the website I mentioned above. Rather than trying to repeat each symptom verbatim, I would rather explain how it affects my life.
I don’t sleep well at night; I am awake every couple of hours. When I wake in the morning, I have a hard time adjusting to the sounds around me. Just the slightest sound is torture to my ears. I hurt my daughter’s feelings all the time because I ask her not to talk to me in the mornings. This is not intentional on my part; I just don’t want to subject myself to unnecessary pain. Throughout the day, I am accosted by sudden noises that sound like a piercing cry to my sensitive ears. I have such a difficult time dealing with noises that I choose to remain at home most of the time. It is so much easier to control what I am exposed to within my own four walls. I am very particular about my clothes because certain fabrics make me itch or irritate my skin. My mom makes a lot of my clothes. I keep my blinds drawn most of the time because the direct sunlight hurts my eyes. At night, I tend to sit in the dark rather than risk the headaches caused by the lights. I have just learned how to see in the dark. I even go to the bathroom in the dark. I am OCD about my house. I can not tolerate a dirty or unorganized house. My daughter says I am a neat freak. I guess I am except when it comes to my floors. That is because the sound of the vacuum nearly causes me to have a panic attack. So do similar sounds such as the exhaust fan in the bathroom and over the kitchen stove. Hygiene is another issue with me because a simple act such as taking a shower makes me feel as if tiny needles are being stuck in my skin. I have to keep my hair cut short because I can not stand the feeling of wet hair. That would not be a problem if the sound of the hair dryer didn’t send me into a tailspin. Brushing my teeth is not my favorite thing either. I don’t like the taste or the texture of toothpaste. I prefer to use my kids toothpaste, or I use the disposable mini toothbrushes that were recently invented. Stating that I have these problems does not mean that I do not maintain proper hygiene, but it gives you an idea how troublesome it is for me. It tends to be painful, and it sometimes makes me feel sick. Speaking of feeling sick, I have a very sensitive gag reflex. Because of this, I can not eat foods that have a certain texture. I don’t eat marshmallows, cool whip, pudding, cakes with icing or any kind of filling, no cheese unless it is shredded then melted, cottage cheese, yogurt, or anything that has a similar texture. I also can not drink milk because of the smell. I am afraid to try new foods, and I tend to eat the same foods all the time. I am a very picky eater. By the time I put my kids to bed in the evening, I have been bombarded with so many sights and sounds that I need the time to rejuvenate. Then the day starts all over again the next morning. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the sensory input and I will have a meltdown. It is not a pretty sight. My life is not very pretty.
I hope that by telling my story and explaining how PTSD and SPD are related that I have helped someone to understand that they are not crazy. There are others out there just like you. Find a support group–an online forum. Anything. Don’t continue to suffer thinking you are crazy. I did it for years. It is not fun.
I wish you luck. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me.