Last week @life.experiments on Instagram shared her sensory kit, which I thought was such a great idea, so I wanted to share mine with you too! This is very much a work in progress for me – I’m still pretty new to my sensory processing disorder (SPD) diagnosis, and these are a combination of useful things I’ve stumbled on before my diagnosis in February, after my diagnosis, and a couple of things that I picked up from some sensory modulation therapy (for anxiety) that I had last year.
Next week I am going overseas for treatment at the STAR Institute in Denver, and I’m looking forward to learning so much more about what strategies to use when. I think my toolkit will improve in the process, but here’s what I’ve found helpful for managing my SPD so far!
aka the love of my life 😂 I had no idea how much I needed these until my Mum bought them for me. Right now, I’m so sensitive to all sorts of noises, and these have enabled me to cope in situations like going to the supermarket, or if someone on our street is using machinery, or if it’s raining heavily. I didn’t realise just how much trouble I was having with these things until I had my headphones, and found how much better I felt immediately after putting them on. Being able to pop these on when I need to gives me some control over my environment, which is amazing.
I really struggle with indoor florescent lights, and sunglasses help with that a little bit. I’m hoping to get some colour tinted lenses especially for my light sensitivity, but haven’t had much luck yet, so my regular sunnies are what I’m using for now!
I’ve always loved lip balm, I find the feeling of it so soothing. I have a little collection of different scents and tints, and pretty much always have one with me.
These things are wonderful. They’re super soft, and you squish them up, and they slowly return to their usual shape. I find that they’re a really good fidget for when I’m feeling edgy or overwhelmed. They’re a big deal with kids at the moment, so they’re really easy to find in places where you can buy toys. The “Soft ‘n Slo” brand is my favourite – I’ve tried some cheaper ones, but these ones have the most marshmallowy texture!
My niece got me into these, which are also really popular with kids at the moment. It’s like silly putty, but on a whole new level. There are so many varieties and colours, and I now own many, many tubs 😂 The little tubs are great to put in my handbag to help me regulate if I’m out somewhere, and the big ones are great to sit down and play with for a while when I’m at home. (Look at all the kinds here!)
Rubbing in hand cream is deep pressure touch, which can sometimes help me when I’m feeling overwired. I like ones with scents that I find comforting, and that don’t feel too oily. I’m almost out of this Body Shop Christmas cranberry one, but it’s my fave at the moment.
This trick I picked up in sensory modulation therapy! Things like sucking a lollipop or drinking through a straw are great for soothing and regulating. I find lollipops useful to bring everything down after an appointment or meeting up with somebody, when I usually feel a bit buzzy and my senses are heightened.
In my last post I shared my love of tumblers, and they’re such an important part of my sensory toolkit. This was the first tumbler I bought, which was just because I wanted a re-useable cup to take to Starbucks, but I quickly realised it was really useful! Drinking through a straw is soothing, and having a lid is so helpful for when I’m in a meltdown state, because I can’t usually hold on to anything very well. I have a couple of double walled tumblers, but this Starbucks one is the best – it magically keeps my water cold even if I leave it in a hot car in the middle of summer, which has been beyond helpful.
I’ve found the texture of satin soothing ever since I was a baby, and I sleep with a big pile of satin squares on my pillow. This was a childhood thing that I never “grew out of”, because I’m not great at sleeping, and they really help! I never really understood why I needed them, but now that I know that I have SPD it makes total sense. If I’m going to be doing something really challenging, then I take a square in my handbag so I can feel it to help soothe me.
I forgot to put this in the photo, but I drink at least two cups of Dilmah a day, if not more (the regular non fancy black kind)! I like lots of kinds of teas, but this one is a necessity for me. I find the warmth of a hot drink soothing, no matter what it is, but this one has such a familiar taste to me, and comforts me like nothing else (except Babs!) can. After a meltdown, or if I’m very upset, this tea helps me to feel a bit more okay again. When I had a rough break up last year, I drank about 8 cups a day for a few weeks!!
… and of course my kitty, Babs! Babs is my main sensory friend. I haven’t been able to access much help for my SPD yet (until next week when I head overseas for treatment ahhhh!), and she’s been the most helpful “tool” I’ve found, bringing down my way over aroused sensory system on a daily basis. I’m super nervous about leaving her when I go next week, but I’m really looking forward to learning so much more about how to manage my SPD.
It will be so interesting to see how this kit evolves over my treatment – I’ll be sure to share an updated version with you if I learn about some different tools!