I knew all my life that I was “sensitive” and could pick up on things that others did not. I also knew that my body didn’t handle sensory stimuli the same way other bodies did. I could easily become overwhelmed by itchy clothes, too much noise or strange smells. High emotion in a room could send me over the edge.
Sometimes if too much input came at me all at once, it would send me into a full blown panic attack. But it wasn’t until I began studying Sensory Processing Disorder that I really came to understand that being a “empath” isn’t just some woo-woo label that New Agers made up to make themselves feel special. I learned that my nervous system is actually wired differently than most humans. Yes, it’s actually a scientific reality.
I like to think of Sensory Processing Disorder as science’s explanation for what’s been known by mystics as the “Empath”. In this space, science and mysticism come together beautifully.
Revolutionary occupational therapist, psychologist, and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, Ph.D., explained Sensory Processing Disorder as a “traffic jam” within the brain. This traffic jam keeps parts of the brain from receiving and interpreting sensory information properly.
Someone with SPD receives sensory stimuli just like other people do: smelling, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, balance, and the sense of where the body is in space, but when the sensory signals reach the brain, they get scrambled. Not only does the brain interpret information differently, but the person with SPD may in fact actually be accessing MORE information than the average person.
Getting flooded with so much additional information can sometimes lead to behaviors that seem odd to other people, even inappropriate. In reality, those behaviors are completely appropriate given the experience that the sensitive person is having – which may not be the same experience everyone else is having. In other words, he is literally experiencing reality in a new way.
The Gifted Empath
From here forth, I will refer to Sensory Processing Disorder as Sensory Processing DIFFERENCE because in my view, it’s not a disorder. It’s a manifestation of human evolution. Empaths, Sensitives and those with Sensory Processing Differences may well have abilities that regular people often marvel at, including the ability to sense subtle sound, light, and energy vibration, emotional subtlety and even mystical phenomena. In recent years, we’ve seen a rapid increase in the numbers of children born with SPD. In my opinion, this is a sign that the human race is progressing toward a superior state. The ability to take in much larger amounts of sensory data is an evolutionary leap for our species. Continue reading