Our senses! Thanks to them, our brains are constantly flooded with information about the world around us. What may surprise you is that we’re not all wired the same way, and some of us are unable to understand exactly what we’re sensing. People with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a newly identified neurological condition, as well as those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), are frequently misunderstood by others when they over- or under-react to sounds, sights, smells, tastes, touch, movement, balance, and feelings within their bodies.
In this guide, mental health counselor, SPD community advocate, and sensory adult Rachel S. Schneider, M.A., MHC, helps us to make sense of sensory issues. Whether you’re someone with sensory issues, a loved one supporting a sensory person, a professional, or someone that is curious about unusual and complex sensory experiences, this guide will answer your questions about life with sensory processing differences.
Illustrations by Kelly Dillon of the humorous illustrated sensory blog, Eating Off Plastic.
About the Author:
Rachel S. Schneider, M.A., MHC is passionate about sensory issues and how they affect adults. She has a master’s degree in mental health counseling from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University in New York City, and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. Rachel’s graduate work in mental health came about from a life-long struggle to comprehend her own quirky needs and behaviors. She always found herself particularly sensitive to light, sound, and movement, and she frequently felt disconnected from her body and anxious about the world around her. After years of misdiagnosis, she was found to have SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) in 2010 at the age of 27.
Since 2010, Rachel has become an advocate and leader in the adult SPD community. Her blog, Coming to My Senses (www.comingtosenses.blogspot.com), serves as an intimate portrait of life as an adult with sensory issues. Her writing has been featured on the popular health and wellness website Mind Body Green (January 2015, What Everyone Should Know About Sensory Processing Disorder), the global self-acceptance website The Body is Not An Apology (December 2014, 10 Tips to Help Neurotypicals Understand Sensory Processing Disorder), and the society and culture website Everyday Feminism (May 2015, The Neurotypicals’ Guide to Adults with Sensory Processing Disorder). She has also been featured in Sensory Focus Magazine (spring 2014, An Ode to My Handler; winter 2014, A Letter to Myself, Many Years in the Making; spring 2015, Reflections on the Sensory Self), and her writing will appear in the next book by Carol Kranowitz, author of The Out-of-Sync Child series. Rachel blogs for Coming to My Senses and tweets at @coming2mysenses, guest blogs for the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation, and leads an online support group for adults with SPD as well as related professionals and family members. She presented on SPD, psychopathology, and psycho-therapeutic techniques at the New York Mental Health Counselors Association’s convention in April 2014 and was interviewed about adulthood SPD on the SPD Parent Zone Podcast in September 2014. She recently teamed up with the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation on the question and answer video project, The Inside View on Sensory Processing Disorder, to help shed light on the daily experience of people with SPD. Rachel lives in New York City with her beloved husband and handler, Josh Erich.
Author of the Foreword:
Sharon Heller, PhD is a developmental psychologist and college professor specializing in how poor nutrition, internal and external toxicity, drugs, and cranial/sacral misalignment create sensory processing problems, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, and on how to heal holistically. She is the bestselling author of Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast. She received her master's degree from the University of Chicago and PhD from Loyola University of Chicago.
For many years she suffered debilitating sensory defensiveness, head pressure, head fog, poor balance, visual processing problems, weakness, digestive problems and fatigue for which conventional medicine could offer neither diagnosis nor treatment. She was told and assumed that her problems were largely from anxiety. Psychotropic medication had a minor impact in helping to reduce some distress but, suffering side effects, she promptly stopped. Something was very wrong but what?
Exploring various holistic modalities, she slowly discovered the causes and treatments for her symptoms. Sequelae from head trauma suffered twenty years earlier drove her neurological symptoms, while Epstein Barr virus, Candida overgrowth, mercury poisoning and adrenal exhaustion drove her physical symptoms, all of which were compounded by unrelenting distress. Neurocranial restructuring, biocranial therapy, magnetic resonance therapy, acupuncture and other alternative therapies, along with a raw food diet, detoxification, yoga, qi gong, and painting (see www.anya.artspan.com) helped to heal and transform her life. You too can heal!