The senses take in sensory information, but the brain does not process them correctly. A person who is ultra-sensitive to environmental input (see, smell, hear, taste, touch, movement, balance, body position) can feel overloaded, anxious, tense, or scared. A feeling of the "fight or flight" response can set in.
The SPD Foundation writes on their website,
"Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as "sensory integration dysfunction") is a condition that exists when sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological "traffic jam" that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly."
Both children and adults can have SPD. Today, it is primarily children who are treated by an occupational therapist specializing in sensory integration therapy. More adults are learning about SPD and recognizing that they may have had this their entire lives and have adapted in ways that can both help or hinder their lives.
Here are ways that an adult with Sensory Processing Disorder can adapt:
Avoiding situations such as a state fair or amusement parks
At family gatherings, wandering off to a quiet place for a while to rest from the sensory input
Doing balancing exercises
Taking Tae Kwon Do to improve body position awareness
Closing windows in the summer when the neighbors are using leaf blowers
Muting commercials and looking away from the fast-moving images
Wearing clothes that are soft
Cutting labels out of clothing
At meetings, sitting at the head of the conference table so the sound and movement is coming from one direction
Doing grocery shopping and other errands only early in the morning when the stores are quiet
Never shopping on Black Friday
Going to sensory integration therapy
Seeking inputs such as scented candles or perfume
Listening to music in surround sound or with headphones
This list is only a few of the adaptation or avoidance techniques that a child or adult may do because each person reacts differently.
Eileen Parker is the creator of the Cozy Calm weighted blanket. She has autism and sensory processing disorder so she knows first-hand how her weighted blanket gives her a happy and restful sleep. Find her weighted blankets at http://www.CozyCalm.com Read her blog at http://www.EileenParker.com