HomeaccommodationThe Power of Silence

This week, I finally got a smart phone, and installed the free Kindle download on it. Up until now, I only read ebooks on my laptop. For some reason, I have a hard time reading books in an office chair. I just can’t seem to get as involved in the text as when I’m curled up somewhere, preferably in a corner somewhere.

When I remember to bring a book on our camping trips,
this is one of my favorite views to read by.

I guess I may have a touch of proprioceptive seeking going on, since having that pressure along relatively large areas of my body is so soothing. It’s not severe enough to warrant any kind of therapy, so it’s not particularly important in my case.

When I started reading my current ebook, The Three Musketeers, curled up in my favorite spot, I was surprised at how much of a difference body position and environment made. I struggled with it when reading on my computer, but found myself being drawn in more when reading on the new phone.

That, in turn, reminded me of the Iron Pen contest I took part in at the beginning of the month. That contest involved writing a 100 word story off of a prompt within an hour. The convention filled the room with participants, and instructions were given. We were given scrap paper to write drafts on, and a form for the final entry.

The thing is, the leader kept talking, because she kept forgetting details, and some of the participants wouldn’t stop whispering to each other. When you can’t tune out background noise, those sorts of things kill any sort of creativity or simple word recall. I was starting to get extremely frustrated, and it’s no surprise at all that I didn’t place.

It reminded me a lot of tests and quizzes in school when I wasn’t given accommodations. Just awful.

Having lived with this situation for my entire life, I’ve accepted the fact I need to control my environment and organize my world accordingly. Unless I absolutely have to, I avoid reading or writing in distraction filled environments. If my husband needs to blow off steam by cranking his music up for a while, I’ll do something physical, or read/write outside in warmer months, while he’s doing it.

Otherwise, quiet times are reserved for reading and writing. I’m extremely lucky that I now have that luxury.

As I constantly seem to say, I’m sure neurotypical people deal with this from time to time, too, but the severity with which people with various forms of SPD experience stimuli can make even ‘quiet’ environments too much to handle.

I guess this circles right back around to stigma and attitudes toward accommodation. When a student needs extra time on tests, or must be in a quiet room, they’re not cheating or benefiting from some form of favoritism. They’re just being given the chance everyone else gets to do their best in a tolerable environment and under manageable conditions.

It’s a little like giving someone a pair of glasses to correct their vision. Without the glasses, they can see something, but they may not be able to drive safely, read or make out faces. Once they’re given glasses with corrective lenses, they can do all of those things again. They’re not cheating, and they’re not getting any sort of favoritism. They’re just altering the conditions in which they live. It’s the same with giving someone who can’t walk a wheelchair, someone with poor hearing a hearing aid or someone who lost a limb a prosthesis.

People with SPD, learning disabilities/differences and developmental disabilities all need accommodations, too. These neurological states may be invisible to the naked eye, but they’re just as worthy of caring about as visible differences.

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