Sensory Sensitivities – Georgia's Experience
Georgia’s sensory sensitivities with different foods and materials can create challenges for everyday situations such as going out to eat and getting dressed.
Her biggest sensitivity is with food, which has attracted judgement from others. This usually involves being more or less sensitive to how foods smell, taste and feel.
These sensitivities can make it difficult to cope with certain textures and flavours in food, which might be uncomfortable and even painful for some individuals. It can feel intense and overwhelming, and as a result, those impacted often opt for bland food instead.
She said: “I'm very much labelled as a fussy eater. I quite like bland food and I don’t like a lot of flavours and textures and things like that.”
When going out to eat in restaurants, it was always a struggle. People would be waiting for her to decide what to eat and insisting that she try something new. If she decided not to eat anything and grab something afterwards, it would be seen as socially unacceptable.
She continued: “People kind of like judge you…’Oh, you’re so fussy. Why don’t you just try it? It’s not going to kill you.’”
Clothing also evokes sensory issues for some; the itchy and scratchy sensations from the clothing materials, labels or seams can cause discomfort and distress. The sensory differences make it unbearable to feel the texture against their skin.
Georgia added: “Some days I can wear clothes and it's fine. And then other days all I can feel is the label in one of my clothes, but it's like I have worn this top for weeks beforehand, but I'm just having a bad day and all of a sudden, all I can feel is the label or the seams in my top.”
In an effort to manage these issues, she turns to fidget toys and stimming to keep her hands occupied and distracted from the itching. Placing an ice pack on areas of discomfort usually brings the best sense of relief.
She added: “I've got like hundreds of ice packs at home for different body parts. Ice is probably something I use the most to stop itching on my skin when something feels scratchy.”
People with sensory sensitivities process information differently; their senses might be heightened in response to specific stimuli. It’s important to recognise how their experiences may contrast to your own, and instead of showing judgement, practice empathy and try to appreciate what they are going through in that moment.