House of A Writer

Welcome to my blog where I share my special needs parenting journey with my heart, truth, and love, one story at a time. ❤️

Living in a sensory overloaded world 

on 9 February 2016

Life isn’t always easy and I make the best of it that I can. I don’t think my life is any worse or any better than anyone else’s, it just is what it is. I have never possessed the Staples magical easy button, but if I did look out world! I do daydream about it occasionally to come up with a working model with creativity and a little wishful thinking on my part. 

I’m a product of my own environment and a lot of time spent in my childhood was loud, confusing, and overwhelming. I came into the world and lived in an incubator for a week while I recovered from being sickly and jaundiced. My Mom had a cold and as a result the Dr took extra precautions with me. This was back in the 70’s when it was perfectly acceptable for Mom’s to stay in the hosiptal longer. Going through my own birth experiences I believe whatever emotion, feeling, thoughts, and drugs for pain management are passed from Mother to baby. 

Without having any personal recollection of my time in the spa I can let my imagination wander and say I must’ve loved it. My jaundice was being taken away under the phototherapy lights, I was warm, comfortable, and it was quiet. As I got older I was a child that thrived in peace and quiet because I saw that my Mom did too. She could fill a room with her twinkling laughter and tell a great joke but she loved the quiet of sitting with a good book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. 

We spent many hours enjoying each other’s company with me wrapped up in a world of make believe with my dolls, Sesame Street, Mr. Dress up and The Friendly Giant as my favourite friends. Whenever it would get noisy with having my siblings home I would retreat to my bed and hide under the covers. I had some certain spots for my quiet time up in a tree, in my blanket fort, and when I was very young I was found one time in the dryer sleeping in the warm and cozy laundry. 

When I needed a sensory break from my environment being too cluttered and confusing I would climb. I was confused for being a monkey on many occasions when someone would ask where I was they would see me climbing the tallest tree or onto the horse stock rack then onto the roof of our house!  I was quite blessed by the hand of God that I didn’t fall off and break my neck or worse! 

Now I’m an adult who still loves to climb and build blanket forts with my kids. I have Sensory Processing Disorder and so do my son’s. It’s not anything I could’ve done to change that outcome since it’s neurological. I’ve read enough in the last two years to help me understand my children’s brains and have seen myself on every page! I was quiet, yet boisterous at times, I preferred to read and write stories, or climb trees, and scrape my knees. Just like any other typical child, yet if my world was to loud, bright, crowded and confusing I’d hide away. 

I read that birth trauma particularly placental complications, is known to be a cause of Sensory Processing Disorder according to the book Out of Sync Child by Carole Stock Kranowitcz. If you’re new to this term and haven’t read my blog I will kindly provide you with a definition. 

Sensory Processing Disorder is Sensory processing (sometimes called “sensory integration” or SI) is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Whether you are biting into a hamburger, riding a bicycle, or reading a book, your successful completion of the activity requires processing sensation or “sensory integration.”

*this definition is provided by the website SPD Foundation.*

There are a lot of different processes with SPD where people are affected in certain ways. I’m very visually stimulated and auditory and tactile hypersensitive. Loud noises bother me, I take everything in while scanning my environment, and there’s certain textures I just won’t touch. I’ve lived with this my whole life and  this is known as Sensory Defensive Disorder. My son’s each have the Sensory avoidance and Sensory seeking behaviours.

 I explain it as follows as we each have a bucket that gets filled with each input throughout our day providing for our eight senses to our central nervous system to our brain.  These senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, seeing, proprioception, interoception and vestibular. 

Proprioception- meaning ones own individual sense of the relative position of neighboring parts of the body, and strength of effort employed in movement. Yes My youngest son isn’t aware of his body in space, and where that begins and where it ends. So crashing into the wall, toys, or his brother are common, and he’s not aware of it until after the fact.

Interoception -is the sense by which one perceives pain, hunger, bowel/bladder control and the movement of internal organs. So in layman’s terms potty training is a bust as of late; my three year old has awareness but no sense of urge control or the urge to eliminate.

 Vestibular- is the sensory system that provides input about movement and a sense of balance. The brain uses information from the vestibular system in the head, to proprioceptive throughout the body to understand the body’s dynamics and kinematics, which describes the motion of objects or groups of objects, without the consideration of causes of motion. Translation meaning when my youngest son is “stimming,” (stimulating all his senses to seek input in his environment) he will spin for an hour if I let him. I prefer swinging-on actual swings- to regulate my vestibular sense. 

 He’s a “seeker”of all kinds of sensory input. Think of it in terms of having a bucket of water with a hole in the bottom, and it constantly needs to be filled up. The clinical definition is Sensory Modulation Disorder. My oldest son has Sensory Defensive Disorder like me. He has a lot of defensive issues with receiving too much input. 

Picture it as a bucket of water that’s constantly filled, and it’s pouring out all over the floor. His issues are predominantly with auditory, visual, and olfactory senses. It’s a full time job keeping all of us sensory and emotionally regulated, but it’s one I do gladly with the help of noise cancelling headphones, regular occupational, physical,  and speech therapy. 

The one thing I’ve come to realize of this journey in our sensory overloaded world is that it does take a village to raise a child, and if there’s special needs involved it grows in size and heart to provide them with success. I do believe that God only gives me as much as I can handle. Sometimes those days are long and difficult and other days are filled with fun and laughter. I’m blessed that they’re also filled with a lot of love, patience, and kindness, and a strong village. 

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by  Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!


32 Responses to “Living in a sensory overloaded world ”

  1. You’re inspiring – is it genetic?

    • jsackmom says:

      Thank you so much H! ? I know SPD is related to birth trauma which both my kids experienced. I do believe my Mom was affected too now that I know more about what the disorder looks like. It’s always a learning evolution for me to know more and do more to help my son’s cope. ❤️

      • Oh wow, I didn’t know that. Your son’s are lucky to have such a supportive Mum.

        • jsackmom says:

          Thank you so much I wish I knew more about my birth journey. With both my parents gone I only have my memories. I know I was two days late and in the incubator. My Mom was very supportive of me and what my quirks are. With my kids I’m always learning, researching, and letting them be outside. That’s the best OT therapy running, rolling, tumbling, climbing, play. ?

          • I’m adopted, so can relate to not knowing much. You are doing all you can now and it sounds like you have a handle on it. Being outside is quite therapeutic to calm the sensory overload?

          • jsackmom says:

            It really is a mystery that I hope to unravel with each memory and picture I have. Yes for my youngest he loves to climb, roll, and run. The same things he does with his PT sessions. My oldest loves to be walking and skipping stones and getting his hands dirty gardening. I love to lay on the grass and cloud watch, so we all get something therapeutic out of it. ?

  2. qwietpleez says:

    I live with SPD as well . . . I’m typically an avoider, unless the sensory input is required and on my terms, like a really hard massage or joint compressions. One of my boys is a seeker, the other switches between the two. Makes life around here interesting!

    • jsackmom says:

      That I understand I’m a great lover of deep pressure myself and I have a whole routine I do with my kids for their bed time. If I miss a day they sleep horribly. I’m going to go back to brushing and compressions because my kids are getting older and changing. They always like to keep things interesting. ?

  3. bobcabkings says:

    Back in the 80’s, when I was in grad school in clinical psych, this was not even on the map. Thanks

    • jsackmom says:

      It was originally presented as case study material in 1978 by neuroscientist and occupational therapist A. Jean Ayres, PhD. A brilliant woman’s research was then continued by Caroline Stock Kranowitcz. I pray that one day it will be a recognized neurological disorder in the DSM 5. Thank you so much for reading Bob. ?

      • bobcabkings says:

        Thanks for the history. I’m thinking there should be study of it in relation to several other conditions. Anxiety disorders and the schizophrenia spectrum and the autism spectrum come to mind.

        • jsackmom says:

          Yes I agree some people that are on the spectrum can also have SPD. And others that only have it aren’t on the spectrum. I looked at MRI images to see how the brain’s is affected and it’s quite fascinating indeed. Anxiety seems to be co-morbid with most cases of SPD. As you can tell I could talk about this topic for hours. ?

  4. New Journey says:

    Very interesting…amazing what they can figure out these days…..makes me think about my own daughter…who prefers to be in a quiet environment to a loud one….and she did have a traumatic birth….I will defiantly read up on this….makes such perfect sense….kat

  5. A very interesting post and an excellent introduction to SPD.
    I am starting to understand a little more each time you discuss it.

  6. My son had severe birth trauma and was in the NICU for a week on a respirator etc. Yet he also has my “autistic” genes…We are extremely sensitive poeple whose buckets DEFINITELY fill up quickly.
    I loved reading about how it sounds like your parents intuitively gave you some of the sensory soothing space and activities you needed.
    Thanks and love,

    • jsackmom says:

      Yes a lot of birth trauma with my second son. Such a scary time in a Mama’s life! I still remember being in the NICU with him and seeing all the lights and sounds on his machine for vitals. One wrong move and one would fall off his foot and the beeping would start, then the crying, then me putting my hands over my baby’s ears and praying that it would just stop. My parents never had a name for my sensory issues but they provided safe places for me to decompress. It’s amazing what we learn in our childhood and how we parent our sensitive children. Your son is very blessed to have such amazing support. ❤️

  7. AnnaCris says:

    Very interesting post. I’m new to this term so thank you for explaining it in detail. I look forward to reading more. 🙂

  8. Great post!

    And while I do love much of what Carol Kranowitcz has written, I couldn’t disagree more that birth trauma causes SPD. From my knowledge from our sensory community, sensory issues run in families and is definitely genetically tied together.

    • jsackmom says:

      Thank you Jen, after a lot more research I discovered it’s prevalent in my family tree. Knowing what my son’s and I go through makes me think the apple doesn’t fall to far from the parent or Grandparent tree.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *