HomeaccommodationSPD: When the Sensory Seeking Meet the Sensory Avoidant
Maybe I shouldn’t have woken that cat up for the pic.

Everyone has sensory needs, but the processing becomes disordered when you lean to one extreme or another. That said, there are two general categories people with SPD fall into – Sensory Seeking and Sensory Avoidant.

One of the more unique problems those of us with SPD sometimes deal with is in balancing our needs with others who have opposite needs.

My primary sensory issue is with auditory input. I have trouble filtering background noise out, what most people consider normal TV/Radio volume is too loud for me and I have a hard time in loud environments. I still cringe when certain vehicles go by, loud toilets flush and loud vacuum cleaners are in use. I also wake up at every little noise, unless I’m sick or completely exhausted.

My husband loves cranking his music up until the bass shakes our house to relieve stress, and likes turning the television up when we’re watching together. He doesn’t notice loud appliances or vehicles, and the lucky guy could probably sleep through a nuclear explosion.

You can see where the issue comes in, here.

Fortunately, he doesn’t need constant heightened auditory input to keep his balance, and he can usually use headphones for his music, but there are times when he just needs to be surrounded with sound.

Over the years, we’ve come to an arangement.

Most of the time, the house stays quiet, or at least he keeps the volume down. When he needs the extra noise, he usually makes sure I’m ok with it first, and restricts it to a few songs, or an hour or two until he begins to feel better. If I have a migraine already, he’ll use headphones, and if he’s too loud in the car, he usually lowers the volume to something I can tolerate for the rest of the ride.

I handle loud environments by either taking breaks, getting out of there as quickly as possible, or regulating my auditory environment by listening to music on headphones.

How do you handle conflicting sensory needs in public, or when both parties need the different accommodations to function?

One of the Facebook groups I’m a member of is all about creating more accessible conventions in the geek community. The one I attend regularly seems far more aware of sensory needs than others out there.

A person with an amazing costume taking advantage of the “Fan Service” room during the convention. (Get the pun?) This room was one of the quiet refuges for the evening festivities.

They have a quiet room, anti-harassment policies and multiple panels to spread information about disability issues. When suggestions are being made, they listen and do their best to implement changes where they can. The hotel is also very accommodating.

There are also areas with loud music at night for people who need that extra input, strobe-free periods for the big dance for those who are triggered by flashing lights and make an effort to list ingredients in convention food.

In public spaces, sensory diversity seems like the best way to go, because there’s such a huge variety of sensory needs.

Interpersonal relationships always come with compromise and understanding, but that’s never more true than when there are extreme sensory needs involved.

At the core of the issue, is the need for more understanding, patience and information. Even if behavior may seem strange to you, there’s always good reason behind it.

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