Adult Sensory Processing disorder

by Kathleen Muhs
(Hilo, Hawaii)

My 46 year old daughter has finally diagnosed her condition as Sensory Processing Disorder.


She was always an "odd" child, was a sleepy baby, had slow physical development, had her own language and spent years in speech therapy, never crawled and walked at a year old, had extreme separation anxiety from birth. She was a quiet baby who didn't need or want to be held. If a stranger held her, she screamed uncontrollably which was odd because she did not cry as a baby. At the age of two, she developed hyperactivity. She would turn around and run without knowing where she was heading and often ran into objects, or would fall down because she did not watch her step.

When she was four, I had her tested by a child psychologist but the testing was inconclusive because, as the doctor said, "She was able to see through all my ruses and would not cooperate."

She spent years four and five in pre-school because she wasn't mature for kindergarten. She then skipped kindergarten and was placed in a first grade special needs program. This was 1968 when her condition was undiagnosed. Luckily she has a very high IQ and struggled through school mostly on her own. She learned to read within 6 months of the special education class. I had been reading to her since she could sit up so she knew about language and books. Our family physician put her on Ritalin but it turned her into a zombie so I took her off of it after three or so months. She hated disruption of her schedule so she would not miss school even when she was sick. She had few friends but wanted to belong so she joined Girl Scouts at age 10 where she was treated unkindly by her peers, but she persevered.

She managed to get average grades in school. She loved school so went to a community college after high school, the graduated from a university with a major in history and women's studies. She then took a firefighter/emt course and became a firefighter. At 5 ft 4 inches, she had a tough time proving herself to the men in the profession, so quit and trained as a nurse. She now is nationally certified in oncology nursing, owns a home, is single with no desire to marry or have children. She is delightful, funny and smart and everyone who knows her loves her for her sunny disposition and ascerbic humor.

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Oct 04, 2011
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Wow! I believe this is my problem
by: Anonymous

I was adopted from birth and have no medical history to
Figure out any of my bio /genetics...
As an adult I realize finally that my overly sensitive sense
Of smell, sound stimulus can send me over the edge and
I have been considered hyperactive my whole life...I also
I have very negative reactions to cold/and certain clothing if
tight causes severe anxiety... I sleep with ear plugs in I'm either too hot or too cold ... I have Reynauds disorder and fibromyalgia which adds to the problem...
Sensory processing disorder
I finally have a name to understand why I am like this...
Thank you everyone for all your comments

Jul 16, 2011
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my son mikey
by: Anonymous

Absolutely wonderful story. My son is four and was just diagnosed with this disorder. He can definitely be tricky at times, but he is so happy and wonderful. I look forward to watching him grow and learn new things and how to overcome some of the things that challenge him. I am so proud of him everyday.

Jul 22, 2009
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Adult SPD
by: Anonymous

An anonymous writer asked about what it was like for an adult who has SPD because he/she was frustrated with their child and wondering whether or not some of the behaviors would be 'outgrown'. From my experience as someone with SPD, the answer would be 'yes' and 'no'. I think as the child becomes older he/she will learn that some behaviors are socially inappropriate, and will learn to avoid doing them publicly. While I may want to spin in circles on my swivel chair and chew on every pen at work, my colleagues would find that weird, so I have to restrain myself.

I'm known for being very hyper, always changing positions and fiddling with something. Now I recognize the necessity of staying in my seat during a meeting at work, although I can use the excuse 'I need to use the restroom' if I really can't control myself any longer and 'walk off' the problem. I think it is easier for an adult with SPD than a child because we can make our own decisions.

I cannot stand long sleeve shirts, pants, nor open toed shoes. I don't buy them and I don't wear them. Fortunately I live in Arizona so it's not that big of an issue that I wear tanktops year round and I wear lace-up tennis shoes all the time. I still have a very difficult time fastening buttons, zippers, snaps etc. Now that I am an adult I avoid clothes that I cannot fasten myself. I get very little sleep in a regular night because I toss and turn so much. I'm so hyper and can't lie still enough to fall asleep. I had a friend make me a weighted blanket which I love. It holds me tight enough that it keeps me from rolling around and I can relax and go to sleep.

I cannot stand messy, sticky foods or activities, therefore I avoid them. As an adult I don't cook, order, or eat pancakes, but as a child sometimes they'd be served and I'd be ordered to eat them, even though the stickiness of the syrup would drive me crazy. I have a very difficult time with eating in general. I choke often and misuse utensils. As an adult I can joke about it, or cover it up a bit better than what I could as a child.

I have a very difficult time with spatial awareness which kept me from driving a car until I was 23. I was petrified of making mistakes and misjudging distances with a car. I prefer to work alone so that there are no surprises, schedule changes etc. but I have learned to work cooperatively when I need to. I find that I have to multi-task all the time. I cannot do one project until finished. I always have multiple projects going on at the same time with the computer and the TV going. I feel like I need to touch things all the time. As a child I would get in trouble for touching everything in the store, but I couldn't know about an object just by looking at it, I had to FEEL it to know what it was like. As an adult nobody questions it when you touch everything in a store. So I guess in answer to the question, the problems are still there, I've just learned better ways to cope with them.

Mar 27, 2009
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HOPE
by: char113

With a five year old son diagnosed with SID this is a good story to hear. It's nice to know that my child to has the possibility even with this diagnosis to grow up to be a well adjusted adult.

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