It's not easy

Reading these checklists made me laugh at first, then it just made me depressed. I read the "adolescent and adult" one first and then the one for children, which says that for adults you would need to "think back" to childhood...

The depressing part comes in when I realize how little I need to "think back" to remember because I still have so many of the problems I did as a child. My problems had a lot of names as a child but nobody called it anything like "sensory integration." There was "picky" "fussy" "over-emotional" and then there was the horrified stare from my mother the first few times she noticed I had bitten and picked and chewed at my lip until it bled freely.

I still bite my lips all the time... but they don't bleed anymore. I chewed my lip in one place so much, a couple of times in teenagehood, that it swelled up like it had been punched (except it had not been punched). But it didn't bleed.

Going to stores is terrible. When I was younger I could get by with huddling on that little bottom shelf of the shopping cart while my mother shopped. When I got bigger it was in the main part of the cart... and when I was too big for that I would cling to my mother the whole time.

When I was too big to do that (and had reached a point in life where I did not want to be touched by anyone, even my mother) there was nothing for it but to periodically sit right down on the floor with my knees to my chest and my arms over my head. Everything is too loud, too bright, too confusing, too many people.

These days I wear sound-dampening earmuffs (think the kind you would use for using very loud powertools, construction work, etc.) so that I can finish my grocery shopping... before I found my earmuffs I would often just give up and leave, or not get everything I came for because I had to get out quickly.

I wear those earmuffs to do a lot of things. I wear them to be able to put away dishes from the dishwasher. I hardly ever did that before I got the earmuffs, because the clanking sounds were so painful. My earmuffs reduce noises by 25 decibels and the clanking is still loud to me... but not enough to hurt.

I'd like to say that my issues have improved a lot over time but I don't think they have. The only significant thing I can think of is that seat belts in cars don't feel like they are squashing my stomach anymore. But I still cannot wear most jeans for that same sensation (and no... I am not fat, in fact I am finally a normal weight after years of being underweight, so the squashing sensation isn't due to actual squashing)

There are various sensations I absolutely can't stand. I like to take showers but I CANNOT get only my feet wet. If my feet are wet and the rest of me is dry it feels DISGUSTING.

If I get food residue on my hands I have to wash them... even foods most people would never wash their hands after handling. And then I need to dry my hands because just having my hands wet doesn't feel so great either (not as bad as just feet, though).

Perfume makes me nauseous. Scented things make me nauseous. A lot of scented things not only make me nauseous but my throat burns and my eyes sting. It's not pleasant. I give the chemical cleaners aisles in stores a very wide berth unless I absolutely must get something from there, in which case I cover my nose and mouth with my shirt and run in and get what it is as quickly as possible.

Everyone in my family knows to avoid touching me because they know I absolutely hate it, but most don't understand why. It's hard to explain to people that my skin feels disgusting when most people touch me... thankfully I can hug my spouse... but they know very well not to do any light touches, sudden things, etc. and know that sometimes I cannot even tolerate touch from them. Sometimes I just cannot be touched because even without being touched every part of my skin feels so much. I don't know how to describe what it feels, just that it feels. A lot.

Eating is a daily struggle for me. I often don't recognize that I am hungry or thirsty, and by the time I recognize hunger I often feel so bad that I do not want to eat, the thought of food in my mouth makes me feel sick. There are a lot of foods that I can't stand the texture of, even if I would like the flavor. I've gotten a little better about that over the years, now instead of gagging outright I might get queasy after a few bites instead.

Some days are worse than others. Some days I'm clumsier than others... over the years, though, I've gotten very good at catching myself instead of just falling over entirely and hitting the ground. But, I still walk into the walls and doors on a pretty regular basis. I've learned to laugh about it. I've learned to handle nearly everything very, very carefully... I've had people comment on how carefully I handle fragile things. I don't tell them that this is because I have to handle things that way every day to minimise how many things I will break, drop, or accidentally TOSS ACROSS THE ROOM when I only meant to set it down on a table.

I think it's funny people talk about having a "ticklish spot"... because I have yet to find a single part of my body that is not ticklish. Maybe someday I will find an un-ticklish spot.

All that said I still find some of the things on these checklists... way too common to be worth including on such a list. Smoking, for instance? Seriously? Wow. Why bother including that? It's so common that having it on the checklist is absolutely meaningless.

But I feel a bit put out when I hear people say things like this don't exist. I'm sure it's easy for it to be overdiagnosed like anything else, but there are "quirks" and then there is extreme oversensitivity to nearly everything. It is not easy to deal with.

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