Sexuality through the Senses: 15 Ways Disordered Sensory Processing Affects Intimacy
Disordered sensory processing can affect individuals with all types of neurodivergence, including those with SPD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, as well as people on the spectrum. While disordered sensory processing impacts many aspects of life, there is one dynamic part that is not often discussed: Intimacy!
Please Turn Down Your Radio
On the way to work, I ask a girl on the train to turn down her iPhone. Later, at a meeting, I ask a man to stop clicking his pen. Before the meeting ends, I’ve asked another person if he’d stop tapping his keys on the table. Next day, I’m browsing in a bookstore and find myself asking the manager if he’d please lower the music. That evening, I enter a restaurant with friends and ask for a table far away from waiters whizzing by. As I check the menu, I pray they won’t play music that throbs and pulsates and invades and dominates.
My Sensory Shutdown Was Not a Panic Attack
Untethered: it’s a word I’ve often used to describe the feeling of having a sensory shutdown. It’s the moment that my ears, unable to sort through the garbled heap of auditory input, stop trying to form words and derive meaning from sound. It’s when my eyes, unable to weave together fragments of the visual whole in front of me, turn the scenery sharp with parsed, unaffiliated details. It’s the moment my body gives up its battle to make a connection, however shy and tenuous, to the physical space I’m in.
Making Sense of Your Sensory Onion
Here’s a moderately interesting piece of information: of all the adults I know of who’ve been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, I am the only one who was diagnosed as a child - in 1996, to be exact. In fact, it used to be called Sensory Integration Disorder. That’s right, there was no “P.”
This has left me in a unique position. I've had nearly 20 years to experience my life with SPD fully knowing that I had SPD. (In case you didn't know, this is not common for adults with SPD.)
When You Realize It's Not Just Your Child That Has SPD
When we work with families at STAR Institute, we often come across parents who just get it. Parents with SPD get what’s going on with their kids, because it’s their life, too. When we think about parents like that, Laura is someone who immediately comes to mind. Her SPD story started when her son was diagnosed with SPD at an early age. She brought him to STAR Institute before we started the teen and adult program. As she went through the process of learning about SPD and understanding her son, Laura had a realization: “This is me! Wait a minute, this is describing me!”
My SPD Diagnosis Helped Me Understand My Story
In September 2017, we came across an inspiring TED Talk by Jennifer Allison that made us instantaneous fans. Her ability to compose herself in a calm and organized manner while talking about sensory challenges, addiction, and joy struck us with awe. In her TED Talk, Jennifer shares her love for art and she is REALLY talented. About a week later, we had one of her prints hanging above the door of our shared office.
There Were Few Adults with SPD
As STAR Institute therapists for the Adolescent and Adult Treatment Program, we’ve seen so many of our clients take their sensory processing challenges and use them as sensory “superpowers” and develop amazing abilities. These newly repurposed abilities have helped them succeed in work and parenting, become SPD advocates, and so on. Recently, we decided to share our own personal sensory stories.
SPD and Sexuality: An Interview
Can Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and sexuality impact one another? If so, how does this look, especially in terms of relationship?
In the following interview, we explored one young man’s experience as a self-identified gay man and person with SPD.
Relationship Focused Sensory Treatment: We Shouldn't Just Treat Individuals
I’m Carrie Einck and you know me from the STAR Institute videos on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) for adults and teens. Today, I’m sharing my story of what drove me to work with families dealing with Sensory Processing challenges and how I address sensory challenges in my own life.... (BUT don't forget to read Sarah's story too!)
My Life Path with Sensory Processing
I’m Sarah Norris and you probably know me from the STAR Institute videos on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Recently, we’ve been asking the adult SPD community to share their sensory stories with us so we can create more community and awareness for all. Today, I’m sharing my story of how I’ve chosen this career and how I address sensory challenges in my own life.... (BUT remember to read Carrie's story too!)