10 Sensory Quirks Only Someone with SPD Will Understand

When I look at my kids, I often see their quirks as just a part of who they are. But I do wonder how those sensory quirks will translate as they get older.

For example, my older son can be out of his clothes in under a minute after getting home from school. And through my online Sensory Processing Disorder community, I’ve met adults who still have to cut out each and every tag (as well as wear shorts in the dead of winter).

“Whether you’re an adult who’s spent years searching for answers, a teen struggling to explain your SPD to mom and dad, or a kid who fears the tire swing, you’re part of an exclusive club whose members not only understand what it means to not only be different, they celebrate this fact.”

Today, we’re getting a front-row seat to the adorable quirks of adults with Sensory Processing Disorder. As part of my Voices of Special Needs, I’m welcoming two of my favorite sensory peeps — Rachel of Coming to My Senses and Kelly of Eating Off Plastic. This dynamic duo are awesome resources for parents raising sensory kids as well as adults with Sensory Processing Disorder! Today’s post is written by Rachel with the hysterical art by Kelly.

10 Sensory Quirks Only Someone with SPD Will Understand

10 Things Only Someone with SPD Will Understand

We have SPD, and we get it . . . we’re hilariously, wonderfully weird.

It’s pretty impossible to be differently wired and not be kooky, quirky, or unique in some way, because in reality, it’s the way we were made. People with SPD are used to feeling just a hair shy of typical in many situations. This single hair blossoms into a whole hank when we finally decide to engage in the behaviors and recognize the tools that make us feel well. It’s often hard to revel in our eccentricities, especially in public.

We have a secret to tell you. The second you learn to love your sensory self and every single zany thing that makes you You, the world opens up and the universe comes pouring in. Even better? You’re not alone. Whether you’re an adult who’s spent years searching for answers, a teen struggling to explain your SPD to mom and dad, or a kid who fears the tire swing, you’re part of an exclusive club whose members not only understand what it means to not only be different, they celebrate this fact.

The second you learn to love your sensory self, the world opens up! #sensory Click To Tweet

So let’s celebrate. It’s Sensory Awareness Month, after all. We put our silly, clever, and dare we say creative noggins together, and came up with a list of the 10 things only someone with SPD will understand – especially those of us who are over-responsive to sensory input. Feel free to laugh, shake your head, dance like no one’s watching (we’re clearly not judging), and remember that in this redundant, sometimes bland world, you truly are a beacon of light cutting through the darkness . . . SPD and all.

Popping Balloons – The Struggle is Real.

balloon pop

We’re terrified of balloons. We’re terrified of people holding balloons. We’re terrified of other people’s possible terror when holding balloons. Why? Because balloons pop. Balloons pop loudly. Balloons pop loudly whenever they feel like popping.

Strobe Lights Are, in Fact, the Enemy.

DISCO NIGHTMARE

We think the origin of strobe lights goes something like this:

Person: We know what we should do. Let’s take bright lights and make them pulse. Other Person: Sure! Nothing says, “woo, party!” quite like lights that flash and pulse.
Person: Yes! Let’s make party lights that flash and pulse that some people can’t tolerate.
Other Person: That’s the only smart thing to do.

BTW, we hate you, Person and Other Person.

Fun Involves Being Alone. On a Trampoline. Wearing Earplugs.

trampoline fun

No, we’re not being elusive or coy. Yes, we’re actually having fun while saving ourselves the exhaustion of engaging with people, places, and things. Oh also, tons of calming and organizing proprioceptive input. Plus, trampolines are amazing.

Pants are to be Taken Off at the Front Door and Not a Second Later.

NO PANTS

Oh, hey pants. You are irritating. You cut into our stomach and ride up on our thighs and we feel you on our ankles. GET OFF OF OUR ANKLES! Some of us are hyperaware of you. Some of us would rather tear down the street in our not-so-tighty-whities than deal with you for another single second, but society doesn’t look fondly upon the pantsless. Only one solution at the end of the day. Stick key in door lock. Fumble until door finally opens. Snatch key back out and fling door closed. Ignore parcels in hands. Forget grocery bag of melting ice cream and deny crying baby any comfort. Slip you off like you’re a parade of fire ants marching up our limbs and we are Off! Say it with us now: ahhhhhhhhhh.

Our Kingdom for a Fidget.

fidget knights

Bad news, Shakespeare: King Richard was wrong. Screw the horse. Our kingdom for a fidget. Fidgets are the sensory person’s life-blood, be they koosh or putty or a scrap of leftover something that happens to be soft or heavy or textured in just the right way to bring about calm and peace. There’s no situation too cruddy that a fidget can’t instantly improve.

Scoring a Booth at a Restaurant is Like Winning the Lottery.

booth victory

Talk to us about a nice booth. Why a booth? It’s not to soothe our tired derrieres. It’s not because we’d like to have an intimate chat over a tiny candle. Sitting at a booth is grounding for those of us with proprioception and vestibular issues. It’s one small thing we can control in an overwhelming situation. We’re no longer forced to be adrift in a sea of salads and celebrations. We can’t be surprised by our scampi or Mr. Waiter or Happy Birthday, dear Dennis from behind us. Instead, we’re like a skiff tied to the docks. Protected.

No, We Will Not Eat That Thing You Made. No, We Can’t Tell You Exactly Why.

not gonna happen

It’s too hot or too cold or not any particular extreme temperature. It’s too mushy or too grainy or too soft or too fluffy or too crunchy or too chewy or too flaky. It’s too spicy or too bland or too sweet or too salty or too sour or too bitter. There are too many flavors together. There aren’t enough flavors at all. There are too many textures. There are not enough textures. Did you have to ask?

You Didn’t Bump Into That Table, That Table Bumped Into You.

table bump

We have a sneaking suspicion that the furniture sits up at night and plots our demise. Here we are, pivoting our bodies around the armchair or the corner table or the kitchen island for the millionth time in our sensory lives, whispering, “careful! Careful!” and without fail, we are assaulted by the sharpest edge. Our bodies look like strange globes of foreign lands with masses represented by haphazard bruise-islands. Some of us don’t know where our fingertips end and the world begins. No, we can’t tell you what we walked into last. Yes, it clearly hurts. Sure, we believe there’s a furnishings conspiracy. Yes, we’ll get to the bottom of it someday.

The Fourth of July Was Created in the Deepest Bowels of Sensory Hell.

july 4th nightmare

Once a year, we send rockets up through the heavy, summer air into the sky in the pitch of night. These rockets explode in a blaze of colors and kabooms powerful enough to set off your car alarm. Hooray cheer the crowds below. END THIS MADNESS, say the over-responsive lot of us as we cower from under our bed frames.

Hugging, AKA “You Squeezing My Entire Body Until Your Arms Give Out.”

must hug tighter

For some of you, this is called “Stop. Hugging. Me. Don’t. Touch. Me. Get. Away. From. Me.” For the rest of us, this is a plea to all of those who know and love us best. You know how when you get to the end of your tube of toothpaste, you have to really mash the plastic skin to get even a tiny ounce of minty goop onto your brush? Pretend we are your toothpaste tube. Pretend we’re not made of bones and sinew and will likely bruise from this intense physical encounter. Pretend you are a trash compactor, and your sole purpose on this earth is to turn our forms into tiny, easily disposable boxes of matter. Go ahead. We’re waiting with open arms.

Read more posts touching on Sensory Processing Disorder here. And to learn more about sensory challenges or to join our inclusive community, visit The Sensory Spectrum.

You can find more wonderful writings and illustrations from Rachel on Coming to my Senses and Kelly from Eating Off Plastic.

For further reading, consider the following affiliate links:

10 Sensory Quirks Only Sensory Parents Will Understand | The Jenny Evolution

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  1. I have read some of your articles and I just sit and giggle.. I think ‘yea I’m not alone!’
    My 7yr old son is ADD, SPD & Aspergers. Yea I get that whole vegetable soup thing.
    It can be a daily struggle and just reading your articles helps either by hints or just a sigh of relief knowing we are doing our best…
    Thanks for putting this out there!

    • Missy, you are definitely not alone! The quirk I love most about my kid is his lightning speed in getting out of his clothes when he gets home. It doesn’t matter if we’re just home for 10 minutes. He’d rather change to be comfy for 10 minutes and then change back into regular clothing to leave.

      • That’s my husband. Although I do hate the whole wearing clothes that are tight, thing. and prefer pj’s around the house.

        And several of these fit my PDD daughter. Although she is the one who loves to crush you with her hugs. She would scream if I ever returned the favour.

  2. I’m so under sensitive I’m enchanted with fireworks and strobe lights like a child but I do relate so much to hugs. Just call me a 5,8″ half used tube of toothpaste – squeeze me now ! I love your illustrations by the way.

  3. I have a sensory seeking kiddo. So popping balloons is like THE best therapy…i how ever fear them LOL He also loves fireworks and loud restaurants….strange dude. Tight hugs work for both of though 🙂
    Love the pics and the giggles. Thanks for sharing

  4. DS this morning running around the house singing you put your earmuffs, you put your earmuffs on your ears ears ears. And yes me chasing after the little guy with with pants.

  5. Must hug tighter. Oh man, that is my son. My arms hurt from hugging him as tight as he wants me to hug him. We make sandwiches with him, by taking the couch cushions off of the couch, having him lay on one, cover with the other one and lay on top of him. He loves it. I laughed at the 4th of july one. Where he craves touch, he hates loud noise. I now dislike the 4th because of this.