Post 100: I’m a writer!

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I know that by having a blog, it should be obvious that I’m a writer. However, a recent social situation has made me take a harder look at the way I see myself.

When offering an introduction to a new group of people, the words “I’m a writer” did not flow out of my mouth. For some reason, since it’s not part of my official job, it seemed strange to identify myself in this way. So, I need to be more confident in acknowledging that I am a writer. It’s not just a secret hobby; it is very much part of who I am.

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Makeup, teaching, and leaving my mark

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Between my junior and senior year in high school is when I officially tried makeup. Mom took me to a Mary Kay demonstration, so I had some exposure to proper application. I had been given many makeup kits as gifts over the years. That seemed to be the go-to gift for a teenage girl.

To a degree I could see how, applied well, the makeup enhanced rather than overwhelmed a look. But I also was aware of people who refused to leave their house without makeup, and I didn’t want to become that dependent.

The poking and prodding of eye liner was lost on me, though. It seemed impossible to get used to. Getting that close to my eye. I could barely tolerate someone applying it for me, so I just didn’t mess with it. And yet I felt that was a pretty important element for definition, especially when combined with eye shadow.

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Preschool through 8th grade: Where do things stand?

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Since my preschool diagnosis of sensory processing disorder and the completion of eighth grade means about 10 years have passed, I thought I would do a review of how things have progressed. I’m looking to address these questions:

  • What areas seemed to have improved?
  • Have I grown out of anything?
  • What am I still struggling with?
  • Has anything new developed?

If you missed my big rundown of sensory issues, you can find it here. And don’t worry, throughout this list, there will be links back to appropriate blog posts to offer further explanation. 

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I became the chameleon: Missing out on community

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Artist known as Invisible Man

Upon reflecting some on what I wrote for sixth grade (read that here), it occurred to me that I had actually transformed into that chameleon that I so desperately wanted to be. (If you missed that one, you can find it here.)

I really thought I reached that level much later in life, but in all honesty, the proof is shown during the misery of sixth grade.

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Spinning Rolodex: The chaos of communication

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Yes, I know what a Rolodex is. I never had to use one, but I have seen them around. For those of you who have grown up with cellphones and computerized address books, I’ll let you in on a fun device. It was a place to alphabetize contacts in what was expected to be within easy reach. You just flip to the appropriate letter and then through the cards available until you get the right one. These were mostly used in offices, so that you could cradle the phone against your shoulder and continue to talk while you searched for a phone number.

Alright, now that we’re clear, I’m moving on.

So, I’m great at listening. I will do my darndest to follow your train of thought until the very end. That’s not to say that’s it’s easy. Sometimes it requires extreme amounts of focus to keep up as people mumble through their sharing or speed through one thought after another like a verbal Nascar race.

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Plea to teachers: Be patient with questions

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Every teacher has a moment at least once a day when a student asks a question about something that has just been explained, and the teacher’s natural reaction is “Weren’t you listening?”

Asking questions in class and seeking clarification is scary. At some point, a person gets ridiculed for asking. Maybe it seems like poor timing, even in a situation like this:

Teacher: (wrapping up a long discussion of what to expect and what sections to review) The test will be Friday. … (Brief pause) … Any questions?

Student: When’s the test?

I know it seems easy to write off a scenario like this as the kid zoned out or was clearly not paying attention. I’m sure there are ways of judging that.

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Engaging the senses with a sensory diet

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A weighted sensory snake

With a bank account, you make deposits and withdrawals throughout the day. In a metaphoric sense, we have an emotional bank account too. We receive deposits through kind words or seeing someone unload the dishwasher without being asked. We also have emotional withdrawals throughout the day with working hard, facing stress or deadlines.

For someone with sensory processing problems, those account deposits are crucial and often times lacking.

Every day there are annoyances, challenges and various stimuli that aren’t getting processed and regulated properly. All of these things drain on the sensory and emotional account, making far too many withdrawals.

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I hear voices when I read

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Now, I’m not delusional, but when I read I do hear an internal voice sounding out the words. And if you reflect on your own reading experience, there’s a chance you might experience the same thing. Although perhaps you haven’t given it much thought.

Some people are able to disconnect from the words. There’s a phenomenon known as speed reading. My understanding of this is that every word is not read. Instead, there is a way to skim over and focus on main ideas, summarizing thoughts for each paragraph and section of text.

I can’t do that. If I try, I end up feeling like I’m missing crucial information.

For me, to read with comprehension means there’s an internal voice sounding out the words. I don’t know for sure if this was my experience as I started to read. But it’s what I encounter as an adult, so it seems safe to assume it’s always been there.

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Visits with Grand-daddy, the pincher

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Oh yeah, I was allergic to milk at this stage. So that’s a different kind of formula.

The positive aspect of my grandparents taking me to school was spending more time with them.

Grand-daddy was sick a lot and spent a lot of time in bad. But I’d go up to their room and visit with him. One of their dresser drawers housed a couple of baby dolls, and we would play. We played a few board games too on the bed or using a meal tray. But mostly I remember getting out those dolls.

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Walking backward (not a tribute to Michael Jackson)

So, I mentioned before how I had trouble with toilet training. Sticker rewards and praise didn’t help with the learning process on this one. Or even like episodes of Full House  where Michelle was bribed with cookies to really focus on learning this self-regulation behavior. That happened, right?

I don’t remember specific experiences of trying to reach the bathroom. Thankfully. But trying to get my brain to give me appropriate signals wasn’t working.

I do remember using special underwear that had an electronic device. I believe there was a little pocket in the underwear for a sensor. That was connected by wire to an alarm that attached to my shirt. The sensor would detect that slightest hint of moisture and the alarm would sound to indicate the need to use the bathroom. (Here is one website resource.)

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