The first time I really understood how little sensory sensitivity I had to surfaces was after lunch with a friend. We were headed back to work, take-out styrofoam containers in hand, and stopped to talk with a colleague. As we chatted I suddenly found myself with my thumb and fingers full of pad thai. I had been holding the take-out container so tightly that I forced a hole through the styrofoam.

Once I began to release against surfaces rather than contract against them (thank you, Amy Likar!) I noticed how frequently I used much too much effort in holding everything I picked up. I slowed down and took time to experiment with exactly how little effort was needed to pick up an object and to identify which muscles could be released during the activity. It could take me minutes to take a coffee cup out of the cupboard!

Although this overall increased sensory sensitivity resulted in releasing the grip on my flute, I still wanted more sensory feedback from the keys. I attached textured surfaces such as double sided tape, sandpaper, moleskin, silicone plugs, and paper to the keys of the flute. The textures seemed to wake my brain up to the information I was getting from my fingers and individualize my sense of each finger.

title from A Way with Words 4/23/16 NPR


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