The Sensory Challenges of Moving


For a totally innocuous word made up of harmless letters, this one makes my skin crawl.

Cue the screams

I'm sure someone out there loves the premise of packing up their lives and setting out on a new residential adventure, whether local or abroad, but that someone is surely not me. As a person with SPD, I'm the Queen of Routine, the Siren of Sameness, the Darling of Doing Things on Repeat. The more things are familiar and well-established in the basic and required areas of my life, the happier I am; the better I'm then able to cope with the rest of the universe's surprises. The most important piece of this, outside of my amazing Handler, is our home. And although we're not moving just yet, we're in the process of looking.

Nom Nom Nom

SIDE NOTE: If you're curious, I use the term "home" loosely. Born and raised in the middle of Manhattan (and still a city dweller to this day), for me, "house" actually means "apartment." I don't personally get the appeal of a free-standing, ground-level dwelling a mere door away from ants and raccoons and the local band of roving townies (to each their own), but I understand the concept of a series of boxes stretching into the sky. I like to see for miles and pretend I live in the clouds.

Regardless, especially since I work and live in the same space, it's crucial for me to feel 100% comfortable in said space. And this is why the idea of moving freaks me out to the very depths of my inner being. Besides the impromptu touring of unfamiliar locations and new neighborhoods at inconvenient times, the picking the best streets closest to the best shops and transportation and schools, for a person with SPD, the entire apartment-hunt-moving process involves a secondary level of complication and questions:

"Can I handle living here?" 
"Will this be a positive sensory space for me?"

The most fun part of these questions is there's no clear or immediate answer. You can't, say, camp out on the floor of an empty apartment and wander the streets for a month to see if in fact you can tolerate the new location. You can't knock on the doors of your closest maybe-neighbors and ask them to have their dog bark as loudly as possible to gauge the sound levels or draw the curtains tightly to estimate the degree of darkness that will saturate your bedroom each night.

Mostly, for me, I can't properly read how my body will feel in the (albeit temporarily) foreign residence. Proprioception, and my brain's refusal to identify where my fingertips end and the world begins, means that I can consider a new space with a full heart, but I can't entirely be sure how I'll ultimately adjust to it or how quickly my differently wired body will feel at home and finally be able to rest.

Skeptical Roof is Skeptical

Once again, what is a neurodiverse life without the perpetual need to leap somewhat blindly into the great unknown? (I'm sure that's life in general, so imagine doing it with a different set of processing abilities!) While we're not boxing up our lives quite yet to take this particular leap, I see the general icky haze of moving looming somewhere in my future. It'll be for a good reason, a good cause: a space that fits our phase of life and current needs. We'll hopefully love it there. We'll make new memories. In time, my senses will adjust to the new set of circumstances. Mind-blowingly, the newness will become part of the routine, the sameness. Until then, though, I'll cling to other stable and familiar things. The click of this keyboard, say, and the words I'm writing to you.

Shameless Self Promotion: Want to learn about SPD from a delayed-diagnosis sensory adult's perspective and hear more from yours truly? Order Making Sense: A Guide to Sensory Issues today!


  1. Well said, Rachel! Challenges certainly abound everywhere when moving your life and your sensory environment to a new location. It's a brave new world out there! Go out and conquer it!

  2. quoted you so I came to visit your blog while on a break escaping from the details of moving my family, my life back to the USA after 20 years in Tel Aviv. Midnight plus here and I realize that one of the reasons I only get started working at night is because it is QUIET and dark, I can FOCUS. We've chosen now to move to a place that is quiet all the time and I really hope I'll be sensing a difference. Good luck with your move, too! Thanks for sharing. I loved your post, too, about making peace between your mind and your body.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts