Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Living With Sensory Differences, "Ask The Expert" Edition

In this picture Ben is running on the beach towards the water.  The beach is most likely a close second of his favorite places.

Living with sensory differences isn't always easy, so I decided to ask the resident expert on the subject, my six-year-old son Ben.

Ben and I often talk about how his body and brain give him certain strengths but can also be frustrating at times.

Here is a recent transcript of our conversation about Ben’s unique body and brain, shared with his enthusiastic permission.

Me:  What do you like best about your body?
Ben:  It (my body) has hands to get some coins and to look at the coins.
(Ben is a coin collector.  You can read more about his love of coins here.)

Me:  What do you like best about your brain?
Ben:  It thinks about states.
(Ben is also a huge fan of geography, particularly the United States.  He has a mental map of all the states inside his mind.  He can tell you more about where the states are located than pretty much anyone I know.)

Me: What makes you most frustrated about your body?
Ben: Hitting myself
(When Ben gets frustrated with himself, he’s developed the habit of hitting his head, to literally “knock some sense” into his brain.  He’s learning other strategies to cope with frustration.  The one that helps the most is squeezing a squishy ball.)

Me:  What makes you most frustrated about your brain?
Ben:  It makes mistakes.
(As much as we talk about mistakes being wonderful opportunities to learn, he still hates mistakes with a passion.)

Me:  How do you help your body when you get frustrated?
Ben: Squeeze my squishy ball.
(Squishy balls work better for Ben than taking deep breaths.  Pro tip- get a durable squishy ball.  It's even more frustrating when they break!)

Me: What do you do to help your brain when you get frustrated?
Ben: To get good thoughts in my brain, like coins.
(Positive thoughts are big around our house.)

Me: What is the hardest part about school?
Ben:  The gym and the bucket dippers.
(The indoor gymnasium is a loud place for Ben, and he wears noise-cancelling headsets to handle the noise.  “Bucket-dippers” are people who do unkind acts that dip into a person’s metaphorical bucket.  You can read more about them here)

Me:  What is the best part about school?
Ben: Science experiments and centers.
(Ben is definitely a hands-on learner and we love that his teachers work hard to meet his learning needs!)

Me:  Where is your happiest place to be?
Ben:  In my home with my home.
(Ben has a certain soft blanket that he absolutely loves.  He calls it his home.  As soon as he gets home, he cocoons himself inside it with his squishy balls and his stuffed animal friends.  It is definitely his happy place.)

Me:  What makes you the proudest about yourself?
Ben:  I am a bucket-filler.
(Yes, Ben, you certainly are!

So...there you have it!

Many people try to explain sensory processing or autism, but the true experts are the people who live with these differences every day.  Each person's experience will be unique and a bit different, so in order to best understand the individual....ask.  And, if the person is unable to communicate verbally, watch closely and learn.  All behavior is communication.  

Every person, regardless of their abilities or functioning level, deserves respect.

Every person deserves to hear about (and spend time developing) their strengths at least as often, if not more, than their areas of weakness.

Every person deserves to feel safe, respected, and loved.

And...finally...every person deserves to be the author of their own story.

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!


  1. I have to admit, as I saw your title I had a knee-jerk reaction of, "oh boy, who's the expert now?" SO pleasantly surprised (though I shouldn't have been, with you). Great post!!!!

    1. Thanks! I probably should have titled it- Learning about sensory difference from the TRUE expert. Glad you enjoyed. :)

  2. Awww, you are doing such a great job with Ben! He sounds amazing :)

    1. Thanks! He's a great kid and he makes it easy. :)

  3. As soon as winter comes my son turns into a recess-hating kiddo because it's held in the indoor gym. The noise bouncing off the walls is just too much some days.

    What a wonder that your son does a great job sharing his thoughts and recognizing his uniqueness.

    Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution

    1. Gosh, those gyms can be loud, can't they?! I'm glad your son only has to endure it for one season of the year. My son would be jealous. :)

      Thanks for your kind words and for hosting the hop!

  4. Love this post! Definitely going to be asking my son these questions.

    1. Excellent, Erin! I hope it leads to some great conversation. :)


Please add a comment here.