A recent bout with unexpected sunburn (are they ever expected?) left my back so “prickly” that it ruined an entire day and night of my island vacation. Prickly doesn’t really describe the agony I was in…it was more like someone was sticking pins into my back for hours. My sleep was interrupted almost hourly, despite aloe applications and Ibuprofen.
But the real eye opener was while I was in the throws of this agony, my poor, unsuspecting husband went to hold my hand, and I pulled my hand away. I just could not stand to be touched. I want to assure you that this is not my usual response. Any touch felt noxious at that point, and I wondered, “is this what is feels like to have a sensory processing disorder”? If so, how awful it must be for a child (or an adult for that matter) to live like this chronically!
After much experimentation, the only thing that helped this sensory barrage was being in a cool, dim room, and applying cool, damp washcloths to my back, nearly constantly. I couldn’t even concentrate enough to read the newspaper, no less a novel that required keeping track of each character and a complicated story line.
While I do not recommend this method of understanding and becoming more compassionate with our clients with SPD, I did want to report the experience to all you therapists who deal with these issues. The take home message for me is that constant neutral sensory input does work, this disorder is truly distracting, even in a mature CNS (well, I try to be mature most of the time), and OTs are truly saints!
I would love to hear your thoughts on SPD and what you find works for calming and decreasing the sensation of noxious inputs for these children.