Misunderstood, misdiagnosed

When I was about ten, I was diagnosed with NLD (nonverbal learning disorder). My childhood was full of conflicts with my parents, that always ended in me getting spanked or severely punished. My diagnosis explained some of the problems I had, but in my opinion, never fully explained why I would get so angry, upset, and emotional when there was no reason to. After learning about sensory processing disorder, I think I finally have the answer... I was so stressed and overloaded by trying to deal with SPD that I had no patience for anything else. And of course, the spanking only made me angrier.

Learning about this disorder has been amazing...I stood in the bookstore reading a book about it and almost started crying right there. It made SO much sense! I've always thought I was just slightly crazy, but it turns out there's a reason.

I have an interesting assortment of symptoms....my main problems are hypersensitivity to smell, visual stimuli, and touch. I HATE being touched, especially when I'm not expecting it....I'll shudder, flinch, pull away, or tense up. Can't help it. It makes my skin crawl. When my hair falls in my face, brushing it ever so slightly, it drives me crazy. When I get home, I put on a bandanna ASAP to keep it out of my face. I own about six different bandannas so I always have a clean one.

My sense of smell is driving me insane. I smell things nobody else smells, and when something smells bad to me I panic and stop breathing (for example, on a recent trip to NY, the subway just about killed me). I HAVE to smell everything, which is apparently very weird... recently, while staying at a friends house, the one thing that comforted me and made me feel safe was

the fact that the sheets and towels DIDN'T HAVE ANY SMELL. To me, that was the most wonderful thing. I ask you, is that normal?

Visual is also a big problem. I can't stand light...have to wear sunglasses on even a cloudy day, and if I don't, I get a headache, get extremely tired, and start feeling like I can't open my eyes all the way, can't see. When I'm trying to read, if i see something distracting out of the corner of my eye, I cannot concentrate and have to move it out of my sight. Eye contact makes me extremely uncomfortable. Fluorescent lights are my worst enemy...I HATE them.

There's some other things too. I have terrible handwriting, because I just cannot control my hand correctly. Writing legibly is slow and it hurts. Sound is a bit of a problem too. If someone exhales too close to me, I flinch and shudder (especially if I can feel their breath too). Airplanes nearly kill me because the constant roar makes me feel like my head's about to explode.

Proprioception is a problem also. Have always been terrified of escalators and afraid I'll fall down them. Hate bridges. And I can never sit still comfortably, especially in a chair. I just can't sit. Sometimes I stand up while reading/studying because of this.

Well, there is a point to all this complaining. If you know anyone who is sensory defensive, even mildly so, CUT THEM SOME SLACK! Not only is this disorder frustrating, but being told all the time that you're crazy or weird or too sensitive can truly rob someone of their self esteem. And do you really want to contribute to that? Please, try to understand and not judge us when we react weirdly because most of the time, we really can't help it.

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