S. O. S.

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(photo credit: Peekaboo Kabuki)
The other night, I had an “Aha” moment. I knew I had dealt with sensory integration dysfunction my entire life, but it never really got, what I would consider, out of control.  Some might call it being a complete clutz, but I like to think of it as being unSENSORed. Or like an unplugged emergency system. I never seem to figure out the best way to describe this without it sounding weird. But I think this time, I will give it my best shot on describing sensory integration dysfunction. Imagine for a minute that you’re doing something routinely like say, reaching for your brush on your dresser, or eating cereal at breakfast. Then all of a sudden you only have half of each of the five senses working. You know you’re doing something, but you don’t fully know what is going on or that you injured yourself in the process. It’s like a connection is lost somewhere, sometime, but you don’t actually know when it happened or what caused it. So, to correct it, to create balance, I find myself overcompensating in other areas. For example:

A shower           
If it were up to me, I would take a good ‘ole bath over a shower any day and then wash my hair separately. Why? Well, who else do you know would willingly walk into a situation where you get pelted with liquidized rocks? That is what a shower feels like for me. I know it’s water. I can see that it’s water, but it feels like rocks continually hitting my back. Knowing that, I volunteer to take a shower when I need that need met. I do it at other times too, but it’s not as relaxing as it should be.

A chain-link fence
How many times have we (or you) walked along a chain-link fence and run your hand across it? Once? Twice? A few times? What about the tingly feeling that goes from your fingertips, and through your arm after you stop? Low and behold, that is your nervous system which is the biggest culprit for a sensory integration dysfunction. I have literally felt this “burning” sensation through my arm as my nerves try to “fire”.  Painful at the time? Yes, but not really. Especially when it makes me look “normal” for a long period of time.

Now that I’ve explained a sensory dysfunction, you may be wondering what a sensory overload is. Well, the best way to describe that to you is to let you experience it first hand in the clip below. I have only one request: Follow. The. Directions. All the way to the end. (And no cheating).

Simulation clip

Crazy right? Now imagine walking into stores, malls, buildings with that open ceiling setup. It’s hard, the desire to find the nearest escape route is always there.When I ultimately have to be in a building like that, I make the trip as short, as agonizingly sweet, as I possibly can. But yet, I stand in the front row when it comes to my friend’s band shows, so how am I able to handle it? I “condition” myself for those types of situations, and only those. I know what their music sounds like, I know how they set the amps and sound system for their shows and I create my own simulation and set my volume to safely match it. Then when I get at the show, I make a mental map of the room to know where certain exits are. So, as Commissioner Frank Reagan says on the tv show Blue Bloods:

“Before you cast judgment on a person, first walk a mile in their shoes”

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