What’s Your Sensory Type?

Dr. Winnie Dunn, in her new book called Living Sensationally, has determined a new way to classify people. Dr. Dunn is an Occupational Therapist (OT) who works with people who have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a fairly new description in and of itself, divides people into 4 groups of sensory types: Sensors, Avoiders, Seekers, and Bystanders.

As some of you may know, SPD is often seen as a comorbidity to Autism Spectrum Disorders. However, Dr. Dunn contends that everyone, regardless of diagnosis (or lack thereof), has a sensory type. Much like Jung though, she emphasizes that people do not fall neatly into one category or another. It is possible to see yourself potentially in all of the categories, but there does usually seem to be one that has preference over the others.

Here, look:

SEEKERS enjoy going to firework displays; make noises such as humming and whistling; order or cook spicy food; tend to touch people when talking to them; walk around barefoot; change daily routines to keep them interesting; enjoy extreme sports.

BYSTANDERS are easy-going and not easily ruffled; have to be called several times to get their attention; miss signposts; may leave dirt on their face or hands; find scratches or bruises and don’t know how they got them; don’t notice clutter until someone points it out; don’t notice ambient noise; may wear clothing askew.

AVOIDERS leave the room when a crowd starts to gather; like their surroundings clean and tidy; keep curtains or blinds drawn or partially drawn; make narrow food choices; don’t like getting their hands mucky; select solitary leisure activities; wear gloves for messy chores; steer clear of shopping malls.

SENSORS are distracted by sounds; startle easily; are bothered by fast-changing images on TV; have precise ideas about clothing textures; repeatedly pick the same food in restaurants; prefer clean design in the home; select only a few chosen rides at amusement parks; notice minor changes in recipes; get motion sickness more than others.

I’d have to say that the one I align most closely with would have to be the “Sensor.” Maybe. Then again, I have definite traits out of the Bystander and the Avoider categories. I think it may be more like I’m a Avoiding Sensor with Bystander tendencies. *laughs*

I went swinging yesterday at a local park. I must remember to do that again. I was completely calm and non-stimming for about 30 minutes afterwards. And that was after only about 10 minutes of swinging!

I highly recommend it. As I said to a friend of mine yesterday, swinging is kind of like a quiet way of yelling. You’re really out there, but without the pesky noise. *tsks* Noise like yelling freaks me out. That’s probably why I have problems getting angry. I just know how much I dislike it just when I experience it, let alone do it.

Anyway, I’ve compiled a list that you all may find worthwhile at some point someday. I’ve typed up all of my references for the content analysis that I’m writing and have devoted an entire page to them. The key words are “music” and “autism spectrum disorders.” I’m probably going to type up a whole other page just devoted to autism spectrum disorders’ sources too. I plan to keep adding onto these indefinitely. It’s highly likely that my thesis is going to be on this topic.

BTW, if you’re interested in Sensory Processing Disorder, here are a couple of names you may want to plug into Google: A. Jean Ayres and/or Lucy Jane Miller. I’ve also got some links on my sidebar. *points*

~ by lastcrazyhorn on May 2, 2008.

13 Responses to “What’s Your Sensory Type?”

  1. I’m definitely a Bystander! It’s actually quite uncanny the way that fits me – although I also have some Seeker traits. What fun! May I link to this?

  2. Sure!

  3. I’m sort of like you when it comes to sensory stuff… I’m mostly a Sensor, but I have some Avoiding and Bystanding traits.

  4. I remember Little Miss used to swing for HOURS when she was 3 and 4. It was the only time she’d smile.

    I had to laugh at the categories though. My current household has one Seeker (me), two Bystanders (the Cabana Boy and Ditto Boy) and two Avoiders/Sensors (Captain O and Little Miss). They’re really close on the line. We’re kind of blurred around the edges, as you said, with some characteristics of the others. But yeah. That’s a great tool to stop and analyze the communication in your household to see if what you’re saying can be received by the listener.

  5. I was thinking that Captain O would be a Bystander — what with the oblivious thing. 😛 As for the swinging thing, it’s like the only time that the world is actually keeping up with me. 🙂

  6. Our OT recommended swinging for Roo when she was small for her vestibular system, and she loved. Still does. It calms her (and me, for that matter) very quickly.
    I like the sensory types and can totally see my family in them, even though we’re all neat combinations because no one fits completely, just like you said.
    I’d say I’m definitely a seeker , but with strong sensor tendencies. Roo is a seeker with strong bystander and some avoider tendencies. Her twin sister is a sensor with bystander tendencies, and my husband is sensor with many avoider/bystander tendencies.
    Wow, what a mixed bag of sensory types around here! It’s a wonder we can agree on anything! Thanks, this is an interesting thing to think about.

  7. “Avoiding Sensor with Bystander tendencies”

    I think I could fit that same bill LOL! I tend to dress, as my mother says- frumpy and I find brusies and cuts all over me that I have no clue how they got there (caused by that whole issue with spatial awareness- I run into an awful lot of stuff and at this stage of the game, don’t even register it unless the impact knocks me to the floor) and I leave rooms when they get crowded and keep the shades drawn, but my places certainly isn’t ‘neat and tidy’ (though I still know exactly where everything is) and sounds and movement distract me all the time (like I have an incredibly hard time watching the TV with the volume on too) and I stick to my jeans and t-shirt clothing as it feels comfortable.

    And I am sooooo with you about the swings!! One of my best ‘thinking’ places is the local playground on the swing set (of course when there are NO kids there)

  8. I’m sure that I’ve asked this before, but are you sure you aren’t me?

  9. I swear I have the child who fits all four! I’ve been off-kilter with him for years because of this – he is unpredictable. I am a seeker-avoider-sensor. And then Husband, who exhibits NO sensory issues whatsoever and fits no category – not that he fits too many, but doesn’t fit anything in any of the categories….it drives me nuts how darn “normal” he is! And please don’t think I’m poking fun, because I am not, but I SWEAR our dog has sensory integration problems – this is a shetland sheepdog whose ancestors herded sheep in the wet moors, who CAN’T STAND to get his feet wet – walks around puddles, I kid you not. I’ve been laughing about that since he was a puppy, and after C was born and I read “The Out of Sync Child,” I wondered if a dog could be diagnosed as well…lol!

  10. Course my theory is that all dogs are aspies . . . 🙂

  11. Very interesting piece. Probably best if I don’t self analyse too much, as that could get me in a lot of trouble!

  12. “I’m sure that I’ve asked this before, but are you sure you aren’t me?”

    🙂 Seems I have a rather lot in common with a number of on line folks, just no one that I know IRL. They all just consider me a lost cause in certain areas.

    (sorry didn’t reply sooner, things have been a bit crazy in my life as of late- dogs sick, me sick, old med side effects, new med side effects, trying to buy a house, etc, etc, etc. I’m suprised my head is still attached to my neck at this point and it’s only Wednesday!)

  13. Reblogged this on Family Life With Special Needs Children and commented:
    Recently visited this site and really liked the amount of content and experience that is present! Great job!

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