Hello there lovely friends! This blog post has been several days in the works, cause I’m so knackered after my first week, and also I just have so much to tell you, I hardly know where to begin!
I’m underway with treatment for my sensory processing disorder at the STAR Institute here in Denver, and I am so, so glad that we made the journey over. Getting here was a little bit rough – with my heightened sensitivity, flying was pretty intense with the noise/nausea/movement (and I had TWO drinks spilled on me during the flight from NZ to LA?!?! Which didn’t help my overloaded senses 😅), I totally fell apart in NZ customs, and had to be in a wheelchair to get special assistance at LAX, and then when we arrived I had an allergic reaction to a Lush lotion – BUT I think I coped with everything pretty well, and being here is so worth it.
We had a few days to set up in our apartment and recover from the trip, and then I had my first session at STAR on Tuesday, which was an in depth assessment of my sensory processing. SPD has many different facets (imma do a whole blog post on this later, but here’s a brief & incomplete summary) – you can be over-responsive to sensations, under-responsive to sensations, crave/seek out sensations, or have difficulty discriminating between sensations, and this can be different for each sense. So for example, you could find hugs painful (over responsive to touch) but also be often unaware of noises around you (under responsive to sound).
Currently there are only tests that can show whether or not you have SPD, and what subtypes you might have in general (e.g. being over responsive in general) – but there are no tests that evaluate each individual sense, which is obviously very important, since each sense can be affected completely differently. So STAR has developed their own test that looks at how each sense is affected, which involved things like looking at spinning discs and lights, movement exercises, touching different objects like slime and a foot file, seeing if I knew where on my hand I was being tapped without being able to see, among other things! It was super comprehensive and interesting, and it’s almost done being standardised, meaning that occupational therapists everywhere will be able to use it, YAY!
On Wednesday, I was supposed to go back for a goals meeting, but as soon as we arrived and were sitting in the room, I had a meltdown. I think I was exhausted from the day before (and still from the travel/allergic reaction troubles 😅) and we had some loud noises on the way in to the building, and I immediately fell apart! We had to leave, which I was really upset about, but I recovered in the afternoon, and Mum and I went for a soothing drive to Idaho Springs, a tiny way in to the Rockies, which was really scenic and calming.
So Thursday, feeling much better, we had our delayed goal setting session, and it was A-MA-ZING. I realised that Carrie, my therapist, had learned so much about how she can help me from the day before, and that she sees meltdowns all the time, and that there was zero judgement. She started to explain some of the ways my senses are functioning, and it was just so helpful already, before we’ve even started the therapy! I feel so relieved that I’m in the right place, and I’m so, so glad we’re here. Carrie is such an expert, and so kind too – I’m in good hands. We set some goals to work towards over the next couple of months, and when it sunk in that I’m going to be able to do the things I want to do again, and be able to go out, interact, study and FUNCTION again, it was the most amazing feeling. It’s been a long time, and this little bean is feeling so relieved, thankful and hopeful.
I’ve had a four day break now, for which my homework was simply to move in a way that felt joyful each day. I’ve done some yoga, some swimming, some at-home Zumba, some weights, baked some bread (lots of kneading!), and today we went for a little walk around the botanic gardens. It’s actually been a pretty challenging weekend for me emotionally & sensory wise, but the joyful movement has definitely helped. This week has also involved a lot of naps, and watching the whole of Season 5 of Brooklyn Nine Nine! So all up a big big week of work and rest.
I’m really excited to go back to STAR tomorrow to start therapy. Thank you for reading pal – and I’ll talk to you again soon!