Everyone has that one noise that makes them cringe. But for most neurodivergent people, Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) are often debilitating, especially when combined.
An autistic child with SPD often has great difficulty processing sensory stimuli. For example, a hypersensitivity to light and bright lights even causes physical pain. Or auditory stimulation of a loud classroom sets off more behavioural issues as the day goes on.
Plastic makes child and adult Sensory Processing Disorder difficult. That’s because it’s everywhere, which also makes it difficult to cut out of our lives. But it’s possible to reduce exposure. That way, both adults and children can thrive at home and in the work or school environment.
If your loved one is struggling with plastic, remember they aren’t being awkward. It’s the sensory issues causing them distress that you can ease with some quick and easy steps. So, we’ve got some tips for living plastic-free in our 5 benefits of plastic-free living with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder.
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The main factor in triggering misophonia is plastic wrapping. The noise of opening a packet of crisps (that’s potato chips to our American readers!) makes millions cringe all over the world.
Misophonia, a hatred of loud noises, often co-exists with Autism and ADHD. Whether it’s opening a packet of crisps, or polystyrene breaking apart. Plastic is not the nicest sound for many people.
In the home, focus on products around the house. Background noise becomes more manageable and it will reduce the chances of distress when your Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder is doing their thing.
To reduce plastic, try visiting your local fruit and veg shop or a plastic-free online store and ditch the packaging. Also, home refill services help if you would rather stay away from crowded places. These also prevent the agonising crunch of plastic echoing around your house.
Many people are allergic to plasters. But for many who are Neurodivergent it goes beyond sensory processing difficulties. Being made to wear a plaster is forceful, and this triggers tactile defensiveness as a result. But there is an alternative.
Plastic-free plasters are a great way to overcome this double-attack on the senses. These plasters feel different to touch. So even for those with SPD without the allergies, they’re worth considering. They’re also a great addition for the first-aid box if you’re looking at operating a neurodiversity-friendly business.
Sensory-Based Motor Disorder tends to also exist in those with Dyspraxia in both childhood and adult Sensory Processing Disorder.
Plastic textures can provide extreme emotional reactions in those with SPD. For example, some struggle with the rough bubble-like texture you get on kids outdoor toys. For others, they enjoy how solid plastic feels, but find flexible plastic distressing.
Aside from saving the environment, using a reusable bag such as one made of paper or fabric helps not only your senses but also the environment. Also known as a bag-for-life in some countries, bags like net market bags will save you money in the long run as well. These bags save you the stress of having to hold plastic when shopping is stressful enough as it is!
A heightened sense of smell is frequent amongst the Neurodiverse community. Much of this comes down to chemicals that also cause taste issues. Anything that comes close to your face such as water bottles or a face mask will trigger a reaction to smells.
Of course, depending on the rules in your area you may be exempt from wearing a face mask. But if you are happy wearing one, swap out your disposable face masks for a plastic-free one. Not only are they more breathable and protect you from viruses better. But they’re also much more breathable.
It’s not top of everyone’s list, but think about it. Have you ever drank water from a plastic bottle as opposed to a steel bottle? The chemicals in the plastic bottle can cause a change in the taste of the water. While in most countries this is now regulated, it’s still not as nice for those who can tell the difference.
Stop buying plastic bottles and go for a steel bottle. It may seem costly, but it’ll save you money in the long run as you’ll find yourself buying fewer drinks too. Even as a fizzy drink fanatic, use a steel or bamboo water bottle that’s durable and easy to clean. This means you won’t need to drink out of those annoying plastic cups at the water cooler any more.
For anyone who struggles with sensory processing issues, look at an occupational therapist. They can look at a type of therapy called integration therapy that helps reduce the effects of SPD.
Exposure to sensory stimuli reduces sensory processing issues by regulating the exposure. It’s like traffic lights at a junction. The end result is a more organised flow of traffic and there are no accidents.
Controlled exposure requires adjustments to environmental factors. Make these changes in everyday life to help make daily life less stressful for everyone.
If you’re new to all this, then you’ll now have a better understanding of the problems with plastic on the senses. And in particular, how it can affect people who are neurodivergent.
By following these simple steps you can avoid using plastics where possible. Who knows, you may not even realise you are also triggered as well!
If you haven’t yet had a formal diagnosis of Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder then you can still use this info. Because the best thing about these changes is that you don’t need a diagnosis to try them and see how you get on!
Keep reading round the site for more awesome advice!
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