By MACKENZIE STEELE.

For people with sensory processing disorder, sensory difficulties are a real pain, especially when out and about.

Last time we discussed a couple of helpful ideas, but sometimes you need more. When you are in a crowded room of people and you’re trying to do something, it can be hard to cope with people touching you, the smells, the lights, the sounds, etc… So let’s put it all together with some situational tips.

Hearing and School

The problem: With a lot going on, sometimes in a class, lecture, or practical, it can be hard to hear what the teacher/lecturer/tutor is saying, when you can also hear a hundred more conversations. It can badly affect learning.

The solution: Find out what help you can get from your school/university/tertiary provider. Especially after school, you’d be surprised at the help you can get.

If you have problems hearing instructions or information in class, ask your teacher or lecturer themselves. In classes and labs, they might be able to give you notes or repeat themselves for you, or if there are visual cues or PowerPoints, you can take pictures on your phone.

Try to sit at the front, but near an exit, so you can both hear what you need, and leave if you have to. For university lectures, check if your university records them on Panopto or similar.

Clothes

The problem: Shopping can be hell. For example: artificial lights, reflective floors, bright colours, loud music, too many people, the smell of new clothes and people, funny material textures, having to get dressed and undressed multiple times, finding something that you like, finding something that fits you the way you need (some people like tighter clothing, others don’t, except with a processing disorder, it’s a need not a want), finding something that has the right cut for necklines/sleeves/hems/waists (again, wants become needs), traipsing around for hours trying to find all that in one item of clothing… Unfortunately, fashion can badly affect life, because that material or style you like is now “out”.

The solution: Shop at Red Cross shops. While second hand stores tend to smell funny, Red Cross shops tend to smell less, be carpeted, and have a pretty good selection of clothes, which feel nicer because they’ve been washed over and over. No matter what, see if you can get friends or family to scout stores before you.

Supermarket

The problem: Between the beeping, the people, the floors, the smells, and the organisation/math skills needed, the supermarket is evil. Sometimes you come out with nothing you needed, or spending too much (because standing in the middle of Sensory Hell trying to figure out how much cheaper A is to B, is pretty much impossible).

The solution: Always go to the supermarket with a list. That way, you can get in and out faster. Check catalogues for prices, so if you have to go to multiple supermarkets to get the cheapest prices, you know what you are looking for or where to find it. If it’s not in the catalogue, get a friend or family member to check for you if you can’t.

If you know or meet anyone who has a sensory processing problem, you can pass on all of these tips from the last two articles. But the best thing you can do is be understanding, and not judge. Maybe that sad, weird, loner kid who never goes anywhere fun, actually can’t. That person who seems to be having a tantrum at the mall may actually be experiencing sensory overload, and doesn’t want to be touched. And perhaps you should supply your processing-impaired three-year-old cousin only soft toys with the material they like.

Anyway, I hope these have helped!

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