It was only after we started treating C for sensory processing disorder that I realized I have always had it, too. There have always been little things that really bother me (i.e. unexpected noises, a bug flying past my ear, multiple electronic devices on at the same time). I witness C’s sensory meltdowns on a regular basis and now I recognize when he’s reaching his limits; but I never knew that I have sensory meltdowns as an adult. These adult sensory meltdowns look a little different than my toddler’s meltdowns, but they are sensory-related nonetheless.
A few weeks ago, I was making a blend for a tube feeding in C’s Blendtec*, Baby Jo was crying, C was screaming and Hubster – just to be silly – started fake crying loudly in my ear. I felt my body get completely overwhelmed by the noise. The stress rose up inside of me, my shoulders clenched, and I just couldn’t take any more noise. I covered my ears and started screaming for everyone to stop. Immediately, I was confused by my strong reaction to the noise that is such a normal occurrence in our household. When the stress subsided, I knew right away that I was experiencing what C goes through on a regular basis.
How scary that must be for a child. The complete overwhelm. The feeling of shutting down. The desperate need to escape.
Since that time, I have recognized a few other near-meltdowns in myself. That’s when I know I need to step away and breathe. It’s not always possible to get away, and sometimes I yell. It’s something I am working on. Before having two loud toddlers and a tremendous amount of daily stress, I don’t think that I ever experienced sensory meltdowns as an adult. We’re never finished learning about ourselves!
Do you experience sensory meltdowns? How do you handle them?
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