Updated: Mar 6, 2019
In the recent past if you put the term "Sensory Processing" into your google search bar, you would likely struggle to find relevant information. You would probably be redirected to websites that focused on other developmental disorders.
The times, they are-a-changin'! "Sensory" is now a buzzword. We have sensory gyms, and sensory rooms and sensory nights at the local trampoline park. If you complete a google search today you will actually be bombarded with useful, valid information (yay!) That's fantastic, right?!
Well it is and it isn't. We literally live in a world where we have vast amounts of information at our fingertips. Within seconds we can pull up thousands of websites, research articles, checklists etc. The downside to this is it can become overwhelming, frustrating and difficult to navigate.
I'm here to help.
Let's take a crash course in sensory processing, shall we?
Our bodies are constantly barraged with input from the world around us. Everything we touch, taste, feel, hear, see is sensory input. Our brains are continuously working to absorb all of this information. For most of us, we can do this without even thinking about it.
When we are able to tune out certain inputs - such as the whir from the overhead fan - our brain is doing it's job. Your brain quickly realizes that this sound is insignificant and poses no immediate danger. It has accommodated to allow you to focus on other, more relevant, stimuli in your environment.
For others, the every day inputs that we take for granted, that we don't give a second thought to, are actually debilitating.
Their brains might be sending the following messages: the sound of the heat kicking is deafening, and these jeans, they are too scratchy, these sneakers are too tight, don't even get me started on how bright those lights are ANNNDDD my body is telling me I need to move RIGHT NOW!....HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO GET THROUGH THE DAY?!
PHEW. That was exhausting even to write. Could you imagine if your brain was constantly overloaded like this?
You know that feeling you get when someone scrapes their nails across the chalkboard? Maybe you get chills, or goosebumps or a more visceral feeling. Maybe your cheeks get flushed and your breath
become more rapid.
For me, its when someone attempts to erase with a pencil and the eraser has been used to the point that the metal is scraping against the paper. SCRAPING. AGAINST. THE. PAPER. Can you even imagine the type of savage human being who would do such a thing? I'm getting the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.
Have you experienced this feeling? Are you thinking about the trigger right now? (I'm so sorry) .
This is a small taste of what it is like to have sensory processing disorder. The central nervous system can not accommodate the input its receiving and instead the body receives a different message or maybe the input doesn't register at all.
Imagine you didn't have just one trigger. Imagine if you had that yucky feeling all day. Imagine you had to sit at circle time, or pay attention to a teacher, or complete your homework or ride on a bus with that feeling...
Many children do. They experience this feeling all day, every day. And then the inevitable happens: SENSORY MELTDOWN. This is the result of an overstimulated and overwhelmed nervous system.
The sensory system is complex. This is just the tip of the iceberg, my friends. Remember, this was just meant to be a crash course.
I have so much more to share with you. Stay tuned.
If you would like to learn more, here are two of my favorite sites to get you started: