If you would have asked me four years ago what I knew about our senses I would have answered with what I learned in elementary school: there’s five, right? Fast forward to present day as the mom of a child with sensory processing disorder and autism, and you’ll need to clear your schedule if you ask me that.
When I first started a mom blog several years ago, I didn’t intend to start raising awareness about sensory processing disorder, and I certainly had no idea that there was a designated month to raise awareness. When I started blogging, I thought my niche would fall somewhere along lines of “lesbian mom who adopted a sweet little girl.” And then, my journey took a turn. I found myself on a road I hadn’t anticipated being on, and I was clueless.
What’s a sensory diet? What does proprioceptive input mean? There’s fine and gross motor skills? Wait, did she say vest-i-bu-lar input? How do I even spell that? Auditory processing what?
My phone was full of notes I was taking in therapy sessions and through endless Google searches. I began writing about what was happening in our world and the things I’d learned about SPD. Suddenly, I found myself inadvertently raising awareness. Readers of my former blog would often comment that they had never heard of a sensory diet. Me neither. Some blog readers have thanked me for sharing our experiences, because something I’d written gives them pause for thought. One reader told me she wouldn’t have previously considered how the screaming kid in a store might be having a meltdown because she can hear the fluorescent lights buzzing like a freight train. I wouldn’t have either. In fact, I still struggle to wrap my mind around the complexities of the brain and our senses.
Just a few months shy of turning 4, my daughter was officially diagnosed with autism. I believe that sensory dysfunction can exist without the presence of autism, but for many – like my daughter – the two go hand-in-hand. I advocate for my daughter every day of my life. I coordinate therapies, talk to teachers, educate parents, work with doctors, coaches, and anyone else in my daughter’s life to give her the support she needs to reach her full potential. Not a day goes by that I don’t read an article or ten about autism and/or sensory processing disorder. My days are immersed in sensory awareness. Whether I am picking out clothes for my daughter to wear, cooking her dinner, or planning our weekend adventures, I am constantly thinking about how everything will affect her senses.
There is not a part of our lives that this doesn’t touch and because of that, sensory processing awareness is an everyday practice for me. So naturally, it spills out into my social media posts, my conversations with family and with random strangers who stop to chat or offer advice. I talk and write about this subject openly, because I don’t want my daughter to feel like she is bad or wrong because she isn’t neurotypical. As my daughter gets older, her differences become more apparent. Her quirks that were once easily dismissed as typical “weird toddler quirks” are starting to stand out. I now find myself pivoting between defending her and educating others with more frequency. ‘Sensory awareness’ is more of a day-to-day thing rather than a designated month in my life. Through my experiences with my daughter, I have learned that awareness brings knowledge which brings compassion and understanding. When I started Sensory Share a little under a year ago, I wanted to reach those of us who live with SPD in our day-to-day lives as well as those who knew little to nothing about this subject.
Please help me spread awareness by sharing Sensory Share with your networks this month.