Our Sensory Stories
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You can download Bess's story here:
Bess English | Bess German/Deutsch | Bess Italian/Lingua Italiana | Bess Spanish/Lengua Española | Bess Chinese | Bess Arabic
If you print with the "short binding" setting these read much like a children's book.
Meet Bess, she’s 35 and is a clinical laboratory scientist. Bess likes fine foods and live folk music. Bess has been with her partner for 14 years and they have two children. Bess found parenting her oldest child, who is seven years old, easy, and natural. Her second child is three years old and the fit hasn’t come quite as easily. Bess often feels that she is dealing with a baby who goes from 0-60, cries too quickly and for too long. Bess mostly enjoys her weekly coffee morning with the other Mom’s although she definitely feels that she often misses what is going on and is the last to laugh at the jokes.
Bess is enjoying her latte and talking to her friend. There’s a lot of background noise but it doesn’t bother her at all. Bess’s friend comments “I just admire you so much Bess, how do you do it?”. To her friends, it looks like Bess has tuned out her son's fussiness. Bess is horrified, she always seems to be the last one to notice that the crying child is her son. It’s awful when this happens in public.
Another Mom that Bess doesn’t know well comments “You just seem to block out his fussiness and it doesn’t bother you at all.” Bess can’t tell if the woman thinks this is a genuine compliment or if it is an outright criticism. Now her friendly coffee morning feels like a disaster. This often happens at her sister’s house too--comments about Bess ignoring, not paying enough attention, and being self-absorbed.
Bess hates that her youngest child regularly gets so upset and she feels hurt by the suggestion that she is deliberately ignoring signs of distress. She loves her kids. She longs for a peaceful life and feels guilty that she misses the rhythm of “how things were” before her second child was born. When it was just her partner and her oldest child things seemed to go so smoothly. She has a good life, why is this part so hard?
Sensory Health Supports Relational Health
Bess starts to reflect on comments people have made since she was in Grade 5 - that she comes across as low energy, misses what’s happening the moment, sometimes even that she seems depressed. Bess decides to seek support from a counselor and after two sessions together the counselor suggests that she explore the possibility that the way she processes sensation is different and might impact how she responds to the world and her relationships. Bess discovers that she is sensory-under-responsive - which means that she does not register sensory input until it is very intense. Bess is under-responsive to sound, visual, and touch sensations. She learns that the way she processes movement and position is a strength and has an “aha!” moment as she remembers how good she used to feel when she was dancing two or three times a week. Bess takes dance up again and builds a sensory lifestyle that nourishes her nervous system. She finds she is more alert to the world around her and available for all her relationships. Even her work colleagues comment on the difference. Bess and her youngest child bond and learn to play together and communicate with one another.
Does Bess’ story sound familiar to you? For support with an assessment of sensory integration and processing reach out to your local sensory certified occupational therapy practice or contact us at STAR and we'd be happy to guide you. There are more and more practitioners out there who specialize in supporting adults with these differences.
Sensory Health Transforms Lives
Unidentified differences in sensory integration and processing were impacting Bess’ ability to enjoy life and bond with her youngest child. Had she known that her body’s sensory preferences and capacities impact her ability to tune into the world around her she could have proactively cultivated a healthy sensory lifestyle. Sensory processing is more than the “five senses” taught in elementary school and we think it’s time that the whole world understands the power of sensory health for psychological well-being.
For more information on sensory under-responsivity: Subtypes of SPD - Sensory Under-Responsive Disorder | "Sensory Solutions - Sensory Under-Responsive" | A Sensible Approach to Sensory Processing Disorder: Sensory Under-Responsivity
Adults experiencing sensory processing challenges can find support with STAR Institute's adult treatment program.