It takes years to figure out what’s bothering him, and even then it’s hard to pinpoint. To him, it’s just “too much.” He can’t explain it. He can’t verbalize his frustration – his anxiety – or give you a reason why because it’s not one thing – it’s everything. He’s overstimulated. He feels everything in extremes. It’s intense. His senses are overloaded.
(Child B) She can’t stop moving. She needs to touch everything – grab everything. Her nails are chewed down to the nub. She rubs her blanket between her fingers until the fabric is worn down to almost nothing. She tugs at her clothes and chews on her collar. She’s overly affectionate and far too physical with those around her. She turns the music up way too loud. She sits far too close to the TV. She absorbs her surroundings like a sponge. Then, she crashed. It wasn’t enough. Now it’s too much.
(Child C) As mom puts socks on his feet, she holds her breath. Please let the sock seams not be too much today. They’re the same socks as always, but they’ve been washed again. The day has barely started; both mom and son are already exhausted. It’s a chore to get dressed in the morning. Even his carefully selected wardrobe causes intolerable discomfort. He feels things in more detail – with more precision – with more everything. He can feel every thread count in his shirt.
Three different children with sensory hyper- or hypo- sensitivities, but not all of these children have Sensory Processing Disorder. Some may have autism. Some are just going through a phase much like another child might obsess over Paw Patrol or eat the same meal for weeks on end, but they’re all over or under responsive to sensory stimulation.
I've been through this enough times to know. I'm not going to die. I'm going to be okay. I'm having an anxiety attack. That's all. I will survive. At this point in my life, I know how to manage this. I force myself to take deep breaths. I force myself to focus on something menial and repeat it to myself like it's my Bible.