Sensory processing issues and social events
With the weather turning cold, most people can’t resist the urge to start baking and/or eating comfort foods. October and November always brings about a difficult situation – birthday parties and fall weddings. The noise, the crowds, and then the unhealthy party food, it’s almost too much to bear. However, here are some sensory solutions to help keep your proprioception in check during these social situations.
First of all, if you are doing a gluten-free diet, offer to make or buy the cake or a dessert to the occasion. This way you know that you can eat something at the function that won’t wreck havoc on your body. Betty Crocker has a huge selection of recipes online that are gluten-free but still delicious. Check it out http://www.bettycrocker.com/search/searchresults?st=6&term=gluten%20free%20cakes#/?st=6&term=gluten%2Bfree%2Bcakes&pi=1&ps=9. If it is an event that you can’t bring food to because food is being provided such as a wedding or banquet of some kind, then eat before you go to the event. This way you don’t have to eat when you get there. If you are driving to the event, leave a few snacks in the car. This way if you try the food and find it unacceptable you can go take a walk to your car and have a snack. People forget stuff in their cars all the time. Just quietly say excuse me and don’t explain that the food is not to your liking because you will most likely offend someone. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Do your research. Find out where the party will be and the layout of the place. Go online and see if there are pictures or a floor plan. This can alleviate anxiety of the unknown and help you plan for an escape. For instance, if the noise level gets too loud or if it is too crowded, have a quiet place to go. Is there a porch or a balcony where you can go and calm down? Excuse yourself and go to the restroom. Go to your car and regroup. Another suggestion to help you self regulate in a stressful social situation is to bring a lap pad to lie on your lap (if you are sitting at a table for dinner). The site www.sensorygoods.com has a wide range of them, but I recommend buying something that isn’t so noticeable such as the denim print. Weighted belts or vests worn under your clothes are always an option. You can always leave a weighted blanket in your car and excuse yourself and go take a ten minute break to help self regulate your proprioception, too.
If you are going somewhere that will be blaring music, and have a sound sensitivity then consider bringing some ear plugs to help reduce the intensity of the sound. However, it is important to note that you should NEVER wear ear plugs every day. Most ear plugs are made small to not be visible by others. To find the right ear plug for your ears, I recommend buying a variety pack and trying them out. This site http://www.earplugstore.com/unfoamtrialp1.html sells a variety pack so you can try the different sizes before you go and buy a bulk pack of 100 or 200, (which is the way most ear plugs are sold.)