Health and Beauty

carb blocker effectiveness

The unbearable sensation of being

Elias, Xander, and Cal all experience extreme reactivity to tactile, auditory, or visual stimulation — a condition known as sensory processing disorder (SPD). Tactile triggers that torment kids with SPD include tags in shirts, wooly sweaters, socks, or an accidental shoulder brush during preschool circle time. Auditory offenses include coffee grinders, the birthday song — surprise or not — and noisy, erratically moving toys. Visual provocations that can set kids off include IMAX movies, crowded stadiums, parking lots, even bikes and tents hanging from the ceiling of a camping store. Whether seen, heard, or felt, what all these sensory inputs have in common is their sudden onset and unpredictability.

For an SPD kid, these experiences are beyond a nails-on-a-chalkboard annoyance. “As soon as these kids can move themselves, they will run screaming from the room when these stimuli reach their world,” says Elysa Marco, M.D. ’00, a cognitive and behavioral pediatric neurologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco and a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. Take Xander, who is now 14. He would rather be kicked in his hapkido martial arts class than receive a friendly hug. “It physically hurts when people hug me,” he says. This makes his mom, Judy, who is a hugger, think twice before reflexively going in for a hug. And Elias, at age 2, would hold his breath and sit at the bottom of the pool — the silence and water pressure his only solace.