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My Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Story

(This post originally appeared on the Love What Matters website. Here is the link:

Imagine living your entire life with a disorder you didn't know you had… until the age of 34.

That was me. That was my life.

I'm 36 now. Married. A mom of 3. Author/illustrator. Corporate educator. On the surface, I live a pretty "normal" life. I don't have any apparent disabilities or special needs, and I function as a person who is able-bodied and healthy. There's just one thing. I have a hidden disorder that, at times, can feel crippling.

The most astounding part of it for me is that I didn't have a clue that I had this disorder until I was 34. Why is this so astounding? Well, according to a study conducted by the University of California San Francisco, the disorder I have, Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, is more prevalent in children than autism, and is as common as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Except, when was the last time you encountered an article about SPD in mainstream media? I don't think I have ever come across one. I can only imagine how many adults are living with SPD and have no idea they have it.

You might be wondering what SPD is. Before I offer a technical description, I'll share what it felt like growing up with it.

ANXIETY. Every. Day.

As a child in diapers, my parents used to joke about me constantly complaining about my diapers being "Too loose! Too tight! Too loose! Too tight!"

As a toddler, I would undress immediately after being put into clothes (to the intense chagrin of my working mother). And, boy, do I get it now as a mom of young children.

As a pre-teen, I couldn't tolerate the feeling of my brothers sitting next to me in the back seat of our car (there were 4 of us back there). I would desperately put my hands beside my thighs to get relief from the overwhelming anxiety I felt because their thighs were pressed against mine.

As a young adult, I developed the habit of sleeping with a fan to drown out noises around me, particularly snoring… even if it was coming from another floor entirely. I remember vividly trying to study for college exams but being overcome with intense anxiety from the loud booming music the downstairs neighbors were playing.