1 in 20 people are affected by sensory processing difficulties. For 1 in 6 of those people, it affects their ability to function. Whilst there is much more awareness of SPD now there are still lots of misconceptions. Today we are going to debunk some myths about sensory processing difficulties.
Whilst there is no formal diagnosis for SPD it is very real. Everyone experiences mild irritation from their senses at some time, but if you have SPD it is a constant struggle. Whilst receiving sensory input people with SPD don’t interpret the information properly and this displays in hyper or hypo sensitivity or both.
Sensory processing difficulties come in 2 forms, hypersensitive (oversensitive) and hyposensitive (undersensitive). People with SPD can be hypersensitive, hyposensitive or both. If you are hypersensitive you are known as an avoider and this is because certain sensations are too overwhelming and you will do everything to avoid them. If you are undersensitive you are known as a seeker and this is because you are seeking out more sensory stimuli. Sensory seekers may not react to things like heat, cold and pain.
At school, we are taught that we have 5 senses. Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste and Smell. So it is easy to think that these are the only senses affected. We actually have 3 other senses. Proprioception which is the sense that controls our body awareness and vestibular which is our balance and spatial orientation. If you have SPD these 2 sensory difficulties can cause problems with motor skills. There is another sense called Interoception and this is understanding and knowing what is going on inside your body. If you have SPD this sensory difficulty may mean that you don’t know if you are hungry or full, if you are ill, or if you need to use the bathroom.
Whilst it is common for autistic people to have sensory processing difficulties it is important to know that SPD is a disorder in its own right. Whilst it is not widely given a diagnosis people will often be told they have sensory challenges and plans to help can be put in place. Lots of people who struggle with SPD do not meet the criteria for an autism diagnosis.
Sensory Processing Difficulties aren’t something you grow out of or get over. You can adapt your life to help reduce the sensitivities and escape overloads. There are many tools that can be used to help. But if these tools are removed the difficulties are still there. Sensory kids become sensory adults we just learn to adapt our lives to help reduce the difficulties.
Just because SPD isn’t officially diagnosed doesn’t mean it won’t affect your life daily. There are many things you can do to help regulate your senses. Our Sensory Support Group on Facebook is a great place to share tips and ask questions. If you’re feeling isolated or alone then it’s a place to make friends and find your own community. 1 in 20 people have sensory processing difficulties. There are so many others just like you!
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