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Saturday, July 23, 2011

What's in the name

[This is written when I planned to call my blog AUSP-icious:
Adult with Untreated Sensory Processing Disorder]

   Yeah right, what's with "AUSP",  what is Sensory Processing Disorder and what is so special about Adult and Untreated ?

    There are many sites explaining you about Sensory Processing Disorder. They will tell you that our body receives a lot of sensory info from outside (sounds, vision, smell, taste, touch, ...) and from inside our body (our position relative to our environment -balance-  and the position of our limbs, also called proprioception)
   The integration and interpretation of these cues is sensory processing. And it becomes "disorderly"  if your body doesn't apply to the general rules. If you appear to be funny, weird or whatever in comparison to the majority.

   Actually... I don't believe there is such a thing as Sensory Processing Disorder.  I think no one will find his exact match when it comes to processing signals. Like fingerprints.
   If we would all have the exact way of processing sensory signals, wouldn't life be boring ? We'd all have the same taste, the same character, the same habits...  as the old Indian said, "Everybody would want my squaw." (Anne of Avonlea, ch.29)

    This variation in sensory processing can be fun, can be a challenge. It can be your trademark. You are maybe a thrill seeker, becoming good at sports. Or you may be avoiding movement (like I do) and like studying a lot because of that. Or become one hell of a chess player
    But, and here it goes wrong, it can go the other way: it can cause you to get a negative self image, become too shy, be afraid in social situations etc.
   That is not really a symptom of  SPD!  It's a secundary symptom that one develops because of negative reactions from the environment.

    For instance my son needs strong stimulation of his vestibular system. Without it, he has low muscle tone which makes it hard for him to write or speek and his face becomes mask-like (he loses spontaneous facial expression).Please note: these are three important ways to express ourselves! Imagine losing control over that.
     It all comes back after sliding, swinging,  or jumping on  a  trampoline. But schools won't allow him to take a break to "restore his senses".
   Without these stimuli, he appears to be uninterested, negative, clumsy, a slow-mow, ...  and becomes ostracised by his classmates.

    I am the opposite of my son: I hate moving, especially being moved about by others. Also I am sensitive for light touch. Not for deeper, stronger touch, like hugs and punches (but keep them friendly, please).
   So whenever my schoolmates touched me or pushed me I reacted by retracting, simply because I wasn't used -yet- to their actions. And I became afraid of touching others as well. It branded me as defensive and  anti-social. Too unspontaneous for a playmate.  I became a loner

    Had my son been allowed to seek vestibular stimuli during a school day, or if my environment had been a bit more patient and given me time to get accustomed to being touched (and touching others), we would not have been given such nicknames. We would not have been branded as "odd". And we probably would not have to struggle so hard now, to turn our negative self image into a positive one.

   What happened ? (I cannot think of these words without grinning nowadays, thanks a lot, mr. Vujicic)
It was the environment,  the "leading social group"  that couldn't cope with the individual who did not comply to the group's standard.
   The school boards of the schools my son attended were afraid that all children would demand the right to use the swing or trampoline whenever they'd like it... oh help, this might turn into chaos!! We'll lose control!!
   My environment was either insulted by my retraction, or got scared of such an anti-social response, I don't know.

    Isn't that animal behaviour ? The group annihilating either the intruder (competing genes) or the sick (weak genes).  Both are seen as threats to the ordered society (or the ruling, selfish genes).
   I have studied population biology and have a keen interest in anthropology, philosophy and psychology. I can (and will) fill an entire blog about behaviour at 'survival level'  vs. behaviour at a higher, spiritual level. Anyone who dares to cross swords with me, [i.e. debate] is invited hereby.

   My main conclusion for this blog is:  the disorder part in Sensory Processing Disorder is purely  a social disease: the inability of the society to make room for behaviour that deviates from the majority. Often out of fear.
    Sensory processing schemes that deviate from the mean will be placed in a spectrum of  "disorders" (DSM-5 will probably include SPD)  until it is admitted that the range of  adaptive (sensible, logical, healthy)  responses is a  lot broader than scientists and doctors dictate.

An afterthought:
Now I've got it!. It  IS  a disorder, because dis-order means that it  is seen as a threat to the order of our society; by deviating us from our well evolved -undisputable-  standards.

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