Besides the toxic elements I have mentioned above, there are a few others that any parents must be on the look out for when dealing with sensory processing sensitivities. Under-arousal can lead to stress as well. Continually being bored and without appropriate stimulation can be very stressful. Boredom ends in drudgery and drudgery will make you lose contact with your values and who you are, which will only cause you to become bored, which causes more drudgery. It is a vicious circle leading to burn out and a sense of uselessness, a feeling of lack of purpose, and hopelessness. Boredom and drudgery, when ongoing, causes depression and physical disease (Dionne, 2013).
An extroverted sensory gifted child feels stifled in most of our urban environments. The need to be expose to new things constantly is not met. This poverty of stimuli is difficult for such children to live with and without proper level of excitement in their lives they seek sensory and mental input by moving their bodies in ways that seem inappropriate. But this sensory seeking behavior does not equate with the need for being in groups activities, which makes it difficult in a city to find appropriate activities. Without spatial activities they become very stressed and sick.
Ruth Goldeen, an Occupation therapist, explains how in her 24 years professional career, she has seen the patient population shift from most patients having motor-related issues like cerebral palsy to more psychological diagnoses, anxiety disorders, obesity, autism disorders and sensory processing disorders.
“Seeing how it’s changed, I have to think something’s different.” Goldeen contrasts her childhood experiences of riding her bike outdoors all day unsupervised to the ultra-structured, oversanitized, indoor, supervised activities that make up most kids’ experiences today.
“In the old days, you’d catch grasshoppers, get gooey stuff on your hands. You didn’t have cell phones, there was no checking in. Kids today have less spontaneous exposure to sensory input.”
The problem? “All children are kinesthetic learners. They learn through their bodies; first they touch it, then they label it.”
And without the chance to get their hands dirty and engage in free play, young nervous systems don’t develop a tolerance. Some call it nature deprivation syndrome. “[i]
While the causes of sensory processing disorder remain unknown (possibilities include the usual suspects of genetics and environmental influence), without access to sensory experiences that satisfy and inform a child’s nervous system, we have to supply them, if we don’t these children become sensory bored and eventually stressed.
Unfortunately, at this stage of our civilization, our cultural occupation of space stresses these individual to the point of seeming “mad”. It is astonishing that stress in children is now the #1 health concern for which a doctor is consulted. In these super sensitive children, it can lead to drastic physiological changes.
[i] University of Virginia Health System. “Sensory Processing Disorder: Ambiguous But Real”. UVA Hea;th System Blog. Dec 11, 2012. http://uvahealth.com/blog/2012/12/11/sensory-processing-disorder-ambiguous-but-real/