Overcoming Sensory Processing Disorder As an Adult

TV AutismOccupational therapy isn’t a pill, or a cream, or a pinprick in the arm, so how can it be such effective medicine?

It has made a significant difference for me, a person with autism and the co-occurring sensory processing disorder (SPD). I still need more therapy, including a listening program to help with my awareness of my body in space.

What’s wrong with my sensory system being wired incorrectly, some may ask? It limits my life when I avoid activities I may like, such as talking in a coffee shop with a friend, going out for an evening with my husband, or opening the windows despite the assault of noise.

The sensory problem also isn’t safe.  My husband will say, “How did you get that bruise?”  I run into things and I have falls, some of which have caused injury beyond just a bruise.

The SPD also limited my work ability. I haven’t the balance to be a waitress. I can’t think in a cubicle with noise surrounding me. I would get quickly confused in a fast food restaurant with all the movement, smells, and sounds.

I was determined to get help at an occupational therapy clinic so I could live a fuller life.

What Helps Me

The Wilbarger brushing protocol is a big one, since I learned how to “scrape the senses away.”  The exercises on a trampoline playing ball helped, which seems like a simple thing, but it helped with visual assault, by having me focus on one thing at a time even though there were moving, talking, squealing children around me.  Believe me, it wasn’t easy at first.  Another one is the different types of swinging, which really affected my brain.  I felt so disoriented afterwards, but also more aware of my hands, my whole body, really.  I also learned things to do at home, such as balancing exercises.

A sensory problem isn’t treated with a pill; it’s treated by working on the sensory system, which is what occupational therapy does.

Exposure Therapy a.k.a. Suck it up Princess

When I moved in with hubby, the TV was a huge issue.  I found it next to impossible to figuring out what he was saying if the TV or music was on.  I am still the queen of the mute button.

He also drags me out places because exposing me to different sensory experiences helps my brain deal with them.  If I need to go or go to a quiet place for a while, he understands.  But, I also see the difference getting out does for me.  I am much better able to handle sensory confusing situations.

My sister is the one who uses the saying, “Suck it up, princess,” which means that don’t whine about it, you are not at the center of the universe, just do it whether unpleasant or not.  Maybe it’s just “I don’t want to.”

I am starting to look forward to our outings, as long as I know what we are doing in advance so my mind has time to acclimate.  And, it’s all because of exposing myself do sensory different situations.  The TV is not as much of an issue anymore.

Sometimes I have to “escape” in a hot hurry, but that doesn’t happen as much anymore.  Hubby holds my hand tightly for comfort and we go to a quiet place and sometimes go home.


About Eileen Parker 100 Articles
Support a starving writer, by buying my current book, The Weighted Blanket Guide, on Amazon. I'm a writer working on my fourth book. I live in the Twin Cities with my husband. Between us, we have four children.