Overcoming my Sensory Battle with Lotion

Is "Sensory Battle" a phrase yet? If not, you heard it here first! As a person who lives on the spectrum for Sensory Processing Disorder, and has experience working with children in the field, I can easily admit that my life has been full of sensory battles. Here's the story of one such encounter with lotion.

I have been fortunate in my life in that I have had pretty good skin. Sometimes oily, but since I don't wear makeup, I would say that I have had only a moderate amount of breakouts (lifetime average). But in the past few years, since I have been employed and in a dry hospital environment for the duration of the winter, my skin has gotten drier. Last year I had to start using a facial moisturizer, which was difficult but made easier by the fact that I could wash my hands off to rid of any extra lotion-feeling. This year the dryness is spreading... meaning more lotion all over my hands and body. Best summed up as: EWWWWW

I am very sensitive to tactile stimulation. Velvet=good. Tags=bad. Sweatshirt=good. Lotion=AWFUL!!! The cold, slimy, gooey feeling makes my skin crawl all over. And then it sinks in and it sticks and you can't get it off... ack. My husband and I got massages last year for our anniversary and the lotion almost ruined it for me... laying flat, unable to run or scream as lotion was poured all over me was a very tense experience.

Imagine for a moment, the strain that my struggles placed on my parents. If you have a child with SPD, you are probably familiar with the scene. Your child needs to put on sunscreen but screams, pulls away, and starts crying in hysterics when the goop is applied. Maybe you give in and don't put on so much sunscreen, then the child gets burnt and has to have aloe gel applied and the whole scene is repeated again. (Of course, this is not my only tactile difficulty, and I have processing difficulties in multiple sensory arenas).

But now I am older and understand my sensory needs better. I have managed to make great strides out of necessity- I am now able to apply chapstick multiple times per day (I find that lots of lip smacking afterward makes it better), and apply the facial moisturizer every morning (winter only). I have sought out the least flavored and scented of all products. I spent 10 minutes in the drugstore yesterday sniffing multiple "unscented" lotions trying to find the most agreeable one. The texture is impossible to try out. I am trying to start small... only apply a small amount to a controlled area and then leave my arms free to wipe off all excess. It has been a struggle thus far, but getting better. By concentrating on mastering this, I think I can finally suppress the EWWW and add another item to my List of Can-Dos: lotion.

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