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The SPD Companion, Issue #019-- Using SI Theory To Help SPD Adults At Home And Work
October 04, 2007
Welcome to the October 2007 edition of The SPD Companion.
What I realized was that I spent countless hours every week personally emailing people who wrote to me with answers to their questions. Often, these questions are similar and I know the answers would benefit other visitors as well. So... at The SPD Q & A , you can submit your questions.
I encourage you to check this section often, answer and comment on other people's questions and input... you can even rate the answers! If you have suggestions for someone, an answer, a story, a different view point, feel free to express yourself here. Just keep it friendly ok?
Other interactive sections are: Is SPD Real? You Decide and Inspirational or Funny Stories and The REAL Stories Of SPD . Some of you may have seen the funny, inspirational and real stories that were up, so far. But, now, everyone has a place to submit their own thoughts, stories, questions, moments, comments, etc. via these pages. You can do it right on the site. You can rate them, discuss them, leave feedback, put up your own thoughts, etc. There will be MANY more interactive sections coming soon, so make sure you have signed up for my RSS feed (you'll see the buttons at the bottom of the navigation bar) and/or read my blog to keep up with all the changes and added sections!
I know you all. So many of you have such excellent questions, great stories, inspiring thoughts, important resources, and helpful advice for others. We are in this together and I want to build a community that supports and validates each other every day along the way. So, go check it out. And let's get talkin'! It's time.
OK, on to our topic of the month, the third part of the three part series... ”SPD Adults: Using SI theory To Help Solve Problems At Home And Work” (see the newsletter back issues if you are new or did not receive the past two month's newsletters)...
If you are an adult just discovering you do (or may have) SPD, you may wonder if it is too late. Is it too late to change the way your body processes sensory input? No, it is not. Is it too late for an evaluation and treatment? No it's not. Is it harder for adults to rewire their brains than it is for a 3 year old? Yes, but it can be done! Is it harder for adults to learn new ways because they have a lifetime of pain, accommodations, unpleasant experiences, etc. to deal with? Yes, but motivation, perseverance and a commitment to getting better is “all” you will need (and a great OT too!). Are there things an OT can do to help you? Yes! Are there things you can do to help yourself? Absolutely!
You may be in shock at first... when you have finally discovered there is a name for the difficulties you have suffered all these years. You may be angry that no one understood or taught you about SPD. You may be angry that you have been mislabeled and misdiagnosed for so long. But, I tell you, now that you know... it may be time to grieve. Grieve the losses, the pain, the judgment and misunderstanding from yourself and others. Take your time to grieve. It will be a process, and a necessary one. Then, get ready to accept it and move towards healing.
Part of accepting and moving on is to truly evaluate and understand how SPD specifically impacts/has impacted your life... and to get to that place which gives you the strength to help yourself. IF you understand it isn't too late, you must decide you will do whatever it takes to pull yourself up, accept what is, and DO something, anything, that will make things better. Note... I only say this next part because we have seen it so often (don't take it personally, ok?) If you are still feeling like a “victim” or refuse to follow through with therapeutic interventions, then you are not ready to get better. Wait until you are!
So, what can you do to help yourself? A lot! Below you will find an extensive list of “treatments”/accommodations to try. This list was not part of Anita Bundy's work, as the last two were. These ideas have come to me over time, with education, with experience, and some research. A few ideas were submitted by some of the adults in our adolescent/adult SPD yahoo online support group SPD Adult SHARE . If you are looking for support, please join them!
In regards to the list you will find in this issue, they are in no particular order. They are just ideas and suggestions that I thought of, as I thought of them (truth be told, many of them came from observing an SPD adult friend as he went through his day and thinking about things that would/would have helped him). Some may apply, some won't. Take what you need from this list... what will work for you and ignore the rest. Find out what your body needs and be willing to commit to making little modifications every day and get yourself into OT treatment for some professional guidance, an evaluation, and intensive therapy if indicated.
Find the accommodations that work for YOU and start implementing them today! Print off the list and check off the ones you are willing to try or that you know work for you.
Think, I mean really think about what organizes and calms you, what relaxes and makes you feel good. Make a list, without judgment, of what those things are. Likewise, make a list of those things that overwhelm or disorganize you, or make you feel uncomfortable... no judgment again... just list them. Understand why, from a sensory integrative model, those things bother you... really understand... and avoid or modify them. Cut out pictures, colors, words, etc. from magazines and make a “safe place” poster (or scrapbook); the things that work for you and your sensory needs and preferences. Make sure you remember all 7 senses/types of input; taste, smell, sounds, sights, tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive input. Hang the poster somewhere that will remind you to do these things regularly. Plan your sensory diet around these things!
Matter enough to yourself that you promise to take care of your own sensory needs, no matter what obstacles seem to get in the way.
For Adults With SPD
__ Work at a job that has a lot of repetitive work. This automatic, predictable work is often the most tolerable type of work for SPD adults.
__ Choose a job that allows you to be on your own and independent and/or set your own schedule.
__ Make sure you have a quiet place to go to for breaks at work (i.e., your car, an outside spot under a tree or by the water, a room that you can shut the door and not be disturbed, a walk, etc.)
__ Wear earplugs if noises bother or distract you.
__ Follow a consistent routine and schedule at home and work.
__ Learn different deep pressure activities that are soothing and do them several times throughout the day.
__ When putting things away, keep things you use most often, or need to be reminded of clearly visible (i.e., food to eat before it spoils on top shelf near front of refrigerator or cupboard).
__ Organize items by categories and use bins/containers with labels so things are easy to locate.
__ Make a “master” shopping list with foods you frequently get, listed by isles you find them in the store. Circle items needed or write them out on the list. Check items off as you get them.
__ If sensitive to smells, carry a small vile of essential oil that calms you and place a dab under your nose when other smells overwhelm you.
__ Use stress balls and fidget items during sit down work (or meetings, but be somewhat discrete).
__ Let your family (and employers at some point) know your limits, sensitivities, and needs and plan ahead of time how to handle these things; enlist help when there are things you just can't tolerate.
__ Educate people in your life about SPD and how it affects you specifically.
__ Do enjoyable heavy work activities frequently such as gardening, kayaking, using massage chairs/mats, walks, playing with the kids on the playground or in the backyard, swimming, etc. Anything to get heavy input into the larger muscles of the body.
__ Wear fleece pants, shirts and jackets if sensitive to clothing and fabrics; as one person I know calls them... “fuzzies”.
__ Keep the temperature in your home or office as consistent and regulated as possible.
__ Use heavy blankets, weighted blankets, weighted lap pads for sitting or sleeping.
__ Keep lights low and use “soft” or pastel lights, use 25 watt bulbs instead of 60. Use nightlights as lighting for bathroom, bedroom, or hallways as much as possible.
__ Make your own sensory room at home.
__ Keep sensory supplies at work for times it is needed or breaks; scented oils, candles, lotions, a massager, special lamp/lightbulb, weighted neck wrap, relaxing music, eye mask for break time, etc.
__ Use hammocks, hammock chairs, glider rocking chairs and swings on your porch, backyard, or even installed in your house.
__ Suck on or chew hard candies, crunchy foods, sweet/sour and intense flavors, use a straw for drinks.
__ Go jump on the trampoline with the kids.
__ Sit in an adult bean bag chair.
__ Have a soothing bedtime routine (ex. Epsom Salts bath or bubble bath, read/listen to relaxing music, gradually turn down lighting as the evening goes on, light lavender scented candles, no tv or computer close to bedtime, use a white noise machine or nature sound machine to lull you to sleep).
__ Use room darkening shades.
__ Make your own sensory diet and follow it consistently every day.
__ Wear lycra/spandex compression shorts or shirts under your clothes for deep pressure throughout the day.
__ Know your limits regarding overstimulation; have an “escape plan” and express your boundaries to friends/family.
__ Stick to one activity at a time and remove potential distractions... Example; if you are cooking, cook. Paying bills, pay them. If you need to stop for some reason, have a calming activity to do in the same area you are already working that won't thoroughly distract you. Try to focus on one activity at a time. For example, if you are cooking and having waiting time with nothing to do, don't go in the other room and jump on the computer. Have a relaxing task, right there that you can do while you are waiting on something to cook. Or keep a fidget item handy to use while paying bills.
__ Take care of your own sensory needs in the morning before you start the other responsibilities and obligations of the day, or before you get involved with work or family.
__ Have an OT teach you the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol or Burpee method of buzzing and brushing. Do it several times a day and make sure an OT is monitoring your reactions to this stimulation.
__ Have an OT show you and work with you on companion therapy programs such as The Alert Program, Interactive Metronome, Therapeutic Listening, Astronaut Training, etc.
__ Monitor your diet and watch for certain reactions to food/ingredients.
__ Go to 24 hour stores as much as you can in the early morning or late evening hours when the stores are less crowded.
__ Use high quality sheets, satin or “jersey knit” sheets that are soft, soothing, and don't “knob up” quickly.
__ Use a flannel comforter or hand knitted afghans for extra weight.
__ Use a body pillow between you and your partner if touch bothers you while sleeping.
__ Do yoga, deep breathing, any relaxing techniques you can throughout the day.
__ Find carpets, throw rugs, floors, shower curtains, towels, etc. that are comfortable on your feet and body.
__ Wear seamless socks, tagless shirts and undergarments (boxer briefs for men, sports bras for women).
__ Use massaging shower head to control your water pressure and preferences.
__ Trade in shoes/sneakers for moccasins.
__ Shaving for tactile defensive women? Use hair removing product with the bladeless razor.
__ Use wrist weights, ankle weights and weighted vests (can use vests they have for athletes) as needed for deep pressure/calming/proprioceptive input.
__ Use ideas from the “Cleaning Solutions For The Hypersensitive” article (see link at end of newsletter) if bothered by smells of household cleaning products.
__ Do joint compressions throughout the day.
__ Put a large cushion, bean bag, or body pillow on top of you while laying on your stomach on the floor. Have one or two of the kids lie or crawl (no jumping!) on top of that on your back. (they'll LOVE squishing Mommy or Daddy!) And if they also have SPD? Do it back to them, carefully.
__ Use a computer chair that rocks/tilts back and forth so you can move while you are sitting.
__ Use an exercise/therapy ball as a chair.
__ Make homemade bread-- great calming proprioceptive and olfactory input.
__ Push, pull, roll, flatten molding clay, theraputty, or playdoh with the kids.
__ Color with the kids.. I like the design books they sell at craft stores :0)
__ Any adult sports-- “walleyball”, softball, raquetball, tennis, baseball, swimming, aerobics, etc.
__ Work out at the gym.
__ Play a musical instrument.
__ Carve out “you” time-- hire a babysitter if you can (“mommy's/daddy's helpers” are cheaper).
__ Although not always enjoyable, housework and heavy cleaning can be very calming and organizing to your neurological system... some good proprioceptive input.
__ Play video games.
__ Take time to read a good book.
__ Write in a journal.
__ Keep sunglasses handy or get transition lenses (turn dark outside, light inside).
__ Wake up slowly-- a gradual increase in lighting, sounds, stimulation, etc.
__ Set boundaries and limits in your house in certain rooms, at certain times, in the car, etc. and enforce those rules.
__ Make a special “Do Not Disturb” sign to hang on your bedroom, bathroom door; set a timer for younger kids to know how long you will be undisturbed for (except in case of fire or safety concerns of course). Use this time to do whatever you need to do from a sensory integrative standpoint, to calm or organize yourself.
__ Use smooth, polished worry stones to hold and rub between your fingers and thumb.
__ Wear an eye mask or scented eye mask, if you prefer, when resting, sleeping or just relaxing.
__ Use a fan or white noise machine to sleep or drown out sounds.
__ Do not use clocks that have a ticking second hand.
__ Chew on ice or ice chips.
__ Take a pottery, ceramics, scrapbooking, stamping class for good proprioceptive and tactile input.
__ Spend time with family and friends that understand you and accept your needs and preferences without judgement.
__ Sleep in a snug sleeping bag or wrapped up in/next to a body pillow.
__ Play kickball, badmitton, frisbee, or soccer with the kids.
__ Buy second hand or pre-washed clothing since they tend to be softer.
__ Use incense, plug-in air fresheners, odor removing/eliminating sprays.
__ Shovel snow, rake leaves, use push broom for porches/sidewalks/driveways... great proprioceptive input.
__ Eat frequent, small meals and drink hot or cold beverages (whichever you prefer) throughout the day on a fairly regular schedule.
__ Do desensitizing and proprioceptive activities prior to haircuts or the dentist.
__ Fiddle with rubber bands, paper clips, a mini zen garden, stress balls, theraputty, use hand exerciser and/or theraband for input while sitting, talking on the phone, in a meeting, at your desk, etc.
__ Try Massage Therapy, Tai Chi, and/or Cranial Sacral Therapy.
__ Keep a change of clothes with you, especially at work, in case the ones you are wearing start to bother you for any reason.
__ Use a punching bag to release emotions and give yourself some needed proprioceptive input.
__ Rub loofahs, textured materials, washcloths, and towels briskly on whole body in the bath/shower every day to increase organizing tactile input or for desensitizing.
__ Spin on a tire swing or merry go round with your kids at the playground if this calms and regulates you.
__ Sit in front of a real or fake fireplace... visually immerse yourself in the flames.
__ Chew gum, suck on fireballs, and/or sweet and sour candy to keep you organized or “wake you up”.
__ Play hopscotch or jump rope with the kids.
__ Use yellow lined paper if it is easier on the eyes.
__ Talk to your doctor and ask him if you can use Melatonin (an herbal supplement) if you have extreme difficulty falling asleep.
__ Pay attention to your sleep/wake cycles and circadian rhythm to get the proper rest at the specific times your particular body needs (example, work 2nd shift if you aren't a morning person).
__ Be the driver as often as possible instead of a passenger if you tend to get motion sickness.
__ Paint your walls soft, “warm”, soothing colors at home and work.
__ Last-- understand and accept that YOUR sensory therapy is as important as your kids!
Are all of these appropriate for YOU? Absolutely not. But I do hope you can take this list and find things you haven't tried or been aware of as solutions. Check off the ones that you know work, or are willing to try and hang them up where you will see them. Add to the list as needed when you find other things that work. Make accommodations and modifications where needed. You deserve to have some control over your symptoms and it is important that you find treatment that helps. Make sure you seek out a qualified Occupational Therapist too! It's not too late for change. It never is.
Before you go on to the resources below, I strongly urge you to take a look at Michelle Morris's article Help For SPD Adults . It is indeed the perfect companion to this month's newsletter! If you are an adult with SPD, or suspected SPD, the combination of my newsletter and Michelle's article PLUS the resources listed below will bring you to an excellent starting place for therapy! Read, study, take action and get yourself some OT treatment... you will be well on your way to some major improvements in your life!
OK, one last thing...
Since this newsletter comes in different forms to people's mailboxes (some only get text links they need to copy and paste into their browser instead of regular, clickable links and a pretty background color), I wanted to save all resources and links to products and information that may help you regarding all of the above suggestions until the end so as not to be confusing/distracting amongst the big list.
Below you will find all the links you need. One of my favorite links? The NEW Adult SPD store! Finally, products for adolescents and adults that will help with SPD! Since it is a new store, know that I will be adding more to it as time goes on. I just wanted to get you started. But, for now, you will find things like seamless socks, seamless underwear, tagless clothing, proprioceptive input products, sound and light therapy, things for the home, etc., etc. You can check it out here:
Additional ResourcesOff site links:
Help For Adult SPD
On site links: (although many articles are written with children in mind, the same concepts apply for adults!)
(enter any products or ideas from this newsletter into my site search box and it will direct you to them.)
I hope you find what you are looking for and now have some ideas to begin helping yourself.
Thanks for joining me again this month! Your time and support are greatly appreciated.
Take good care.
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