Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Dear Persons,

One way to describe Sensory Processing Differences (SPD) is by using a filter metaphor: the sensory and neurological filters of people with SPD filter feelings, experiences, and/or surroundings differently than do the sensory and neurological filters of most people.

Some of our filters filter out more. Sometimes people with this sort of filter are called “seekers,” because they seek more sensory input, or they are called “under-responders,” because they feel/notice/process less sensory input than the average person does. 

Some of our filters filter out less. Sometimes people with this kind of filter are called “avoiders,” because they avoid the overwhelming input that certain contexts produce. They are also sometimes called “over-responders,” because they feel/notice/process more sensory input than is typical. 

Of course, all people have different levels of sensitivity, but these differences are magnified for people with SPD. Many people with SPD live with a mixture of filters, perhaps being extremely sensitive to taste, while craving strong movement (yes, movement is a type of sense, in fact, several sorts of sense - but that’s another post!). 

Sometimes a high level of sensitivity can lead to a sort of sensory shutdown that can look like low level of sensitivity! 

Sensory integration - the seamless intermeshing of the senses, and the “normal” processing thereof - can be challenging for people with SPD. My son G and I both live with a mixture of extra-strong and extra-weak filters. Bright lights and artificial odors can knock me out, but I have severe face-blindness (prosopagnosia) and can trip over my own feet. Lights, smells, even loud sounds don’t phase G - and he shares my face-blindness in abundance - but there are other things of which he takes uncommon notice. 

One of the most wonderful things about G is that he notices every single bird in our environment. Not just your cardinals and goldfinches, but every pigeon - “Look! A pigeon!” “Another pigeon!” and every single sparrow we pass on the street - “Oh mom - do you see those cute sparrows?” “Hey, guys - a sparrow!” “There’s a sparrow under that car!” etc. 

Some people dismiss this constant-noticing, or rib him good-naturedly about it (“Wow, a sparrow!”), and it’s sometimes inconvenient and time-consuming, but I celebrate it with all my heart.

Imagine a world where every individual person was noticed and appreciated, no matter how similar, no matter how different. Imagine a culture in which everybody took the time, made the effort, to really see every single other person. I dare to think such things as gossip, bullying, stereotyping…all those evils that come from pre-judging others and from not seeing each individual as equal and worthy in their own way…would disappear.  

G doesn’t filter out every sparrow as just another instance of a drab bird among many. Instead he enjoys a sense of wonder for each tiny miracle of sparrow individuality. 

What if we all tried to see every sparrow? 

Full Spectrum Mama

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!
An InLinkz Link-up


  1. Oh, wow! This is so eloquent- perhaps one of my favorite posts you have ever written!

    I myself filter out so much auditorally and visually that my husband can have complete conversations and I have no memory of them at all. I can walk down the street and have no memory of what I see- that's how deeply I retreat into my inner thinking world if I am not consciously trying to do otherwise. But my child is like your G- he notices every aspect of the world around him. Every morning before we leave for school he takes time to look up and study the stars and the moon. I love how you also take the time to appreciate his love for nature- I try to do the same, because I agree, we need a lot more of that kind of wonder and love in the world!

    1. Thank you for reading. I can't tell you how much your kind comment means to me. And you get it!


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