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The Brain - Body Connection w/ Mim Ochsenbein

by Faster Than Normal

Mim Ochsenbein [Ox-in-byn] has been a practicing pediatric occupational therapist specializing in sensory processing for over 20 years. Her practice has focused on supporting children and families from birth through adolescence, in variety of settings including private practice, early intervention, schools, clinics, and mental health settings. She received a BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California. In 2012 Mim received her master’s degree in social welfare (MSW) from UCLA, providing new insights into how she can better support those she works with both at the individual and societal levels. She has advanced training in sensory integration and processing, feeding therapy and a variety of other treatment techniques. Mim has always been fascinated by the brain-body connection and the role sensory processing has on our development, ability to thrive, and the potential to derail it all. As the Director of Education for the non-profit STAR Institute for Sensory Processing, she has been gifted the opportunity to impact lives all over the world by providing education to other clinicians, educators, mental health providers, families and individuals who are addressing disordered sensory processing every day and thriving. Mim strives to always learn more and teach better. This is a fascinating episode, enjoy!

***CORONA VIRUS EDITION***

In this episode Peter & Mim discuss:

1:10-  Intro and welcome Mim Ochsenbein

2:25-  So explain sensory processing? 

3:35-  So sensory processing does not “just work behind the scenes” for everyone?

4:04-  So, is sensory processing disorder a specific area of the senses that is not processing correctly? Or is it anything having to do with the senses that’s not working correctly?  

4:35-  So 16% is not a low number. Talk about the people you’ve mentioned that get affected by it

5:42-  That obviously makes it even worse in the respect that sometimes it’s not just ADHD, you also have the rest of everything else to look at (?)

6:30-  What should parents be looking for? 

8:00-  On identifying sensory processing issues or ADHD within yourself

9:30-  What can people look for, and look inside themselves to realize “Hey, you know, this might be this… it’s not just me being a screw up.” 

10:54-  Is that from a chemical perspective? What is that? Is that Dopamine or adrenaline? 

12:10-  On praxis/developmental coordination disorder 

13:00-  Where can people find out more about your work and more about sensory processing? https://www.spdstar.org  

14:13-  Thank you Mim! And thank YOU for subscribing, reviewing and listening. Your reviews are working! Even if you’ve reviewed us before, would you please write even a short one for this episode? Each review that you post helps to ensure that word will continue to spread, and that we will all be able to reach & help more people! You can always reach me via peter@shankman.com or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials.

14:59-  Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits

STAY HEALTHY – STAY SAFE – PLEASE WEAR YOUR MASK.. until next time!

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TRANSCRIPT: 

Hey guys, Peter, Shankman Welcome to Faster Than Normal, I am happy you’re here. It is almost the last day of the year. Well, last day of December, we are waiting once the clock turns over to.. ah, next month, I’m assuming it’s just gonna be the 13th month of 2020 that we’re not actually going to be out of 2020 just yet.  There’s always people saying, Oh, well, you know, it’s 2021, it’s gonna be much better. And I’m like, yeah, this is, viruses don’t really know how to use a calendar, but that’s okay. Anyway, I am going to screw up this person’s name, Mim Ochsenbein. How was that? 

Close. It’s Ochsenbein.

Ochsenbein, Okay. I was close enough. We got a practicing pediatric occupational therapist, especially in specializing in sensory…. sensory processing.  Say that 10 times fast. I double dog dare you. Her practice has been focused on supporting children and families from birth through adolescents in a variety of settings, including private practice, early intervention, schools, clinics, and mental health settings. All right. She received a BSC in occupational therapy from University of Southern California at USC.  In 2012, she received her master’s degree in social work welfare from UCLA. She’s trained in sensory integration and processing feeling, feeding therapy, the variety of other treatment techniques. We’re going to be talking about the brain body connection here on Faster Than Normal, which is kind of interesting because everything we do in our bodies when you’re ADHD, is doubly centered on the brain.  Why’d you do that? What’s wrong with you? I don’t know. It was my ADHD. How many times have you said that? Okay, so we’re going to talk about that. She’s the director of education for the nonprofits star Institute for sensory processing. She’s impacted lives all over the world, by providing education to other clinicians, educators, mental health providers, families, and individuals who are addressing disordered sensory processing every day of thriving.  Start off with this Nim. (1:51)  Thank you so much for being here. It is great to have you, explain sensory processing.   (in 20 words or less, hurry up)

Thank you for having me,,, yeah, 20 words or less, super easy. So sensory processing is really like, we all have sensory processing, we all do it. And it’s just the process of our body and brain taking in sensory information.  Uh, sending it to the brain, the brain interprets it. tells us what’s safe, not safe, important, not important and then we use that information, to have, you know, outputs to do things in the world to create memories, to create action, to be goal oriented. That is what sensory processing is. And it just like many other things in the brain and the body, it can go horribly wrong.

(2:36)  So this is everything from, Hey, that cup is hot, let it go…. to, that truck is barreling down the street and it’s going to go through that red light, we shouldn’t ah, cross  (everything in between)

Right. Exactly. And it’s also like picking up the cup, like how much force to use to pick up that cup, and then, um, you know, how much energy to put into your muscles and which muscles to run across the street, so you don’t get smacked by the truck. 

It’s fascinating because we don’t think about that. We just assume much like everything else. That’s something that just happens, but it’s not, it’s not perfect for everyone. 

No, no, it’s, it’s not. And, uh, there’s a lot of, um, people who experienced sensory processing challenges.  There’s like 16% of kids who have sensory…. who have sensory processing disorder, and then there is a big overlap for people who have ADHD. 

(3:29)  Sensory processing disorder is, is a specific area of the senses that is not processing correctly? Or is it anything having to do with the senses that’s not working correctly?  

Yeah, there’s different subtypes of it. So you can have issues with, um, being sensitive…over-sensitive, under sensitive, really wanting more input or how you interpret input or how your body…. how you use your body to, with that input, so there’s a lot of different places…. things can go wrong, I guess, yeah.  (3:58)  And so 16% is not a low number. Talk about, you mentioned that it, that it affects, uh, people that used to get affected by it more?? 

Well, I don’t know about if they get affected by it more, but okay. So about 16% of the population of kids, has likely…. has sensory processing disorder and about 5% of kids have ADHD. And about 2.5% of adults have ADHD or something like that. If you look, like globally, but in terms of like how many people with ADHD also have sensory processing disorder.  It’s really super interesting because what we know is that something around 40% of people with ADHD also have sensory processing disorder. And even those that wouldn’t qualify for like sensory processing disorder, um, just because of the unique and amazing neuro divergent aspects of the ADHD brain, they just process sensory information differently than people who wouldn’t qualify for a neuro divergency, um, condition.

(5:07)  So that obviously makes it even worse in the respect that, that it, sometimes it’s not just ADHD. You have the rest of everything else to look at. 

Oh yeah. It can be, and it can be really tricky for, you know, from a child perspective, the way kids present is different than the way adults with ADHD could present, but it makes it super tricky for families, um, who are trying to figure out what is, you know, that was always a big question, what is ADHD? What sensory. Um, and usually the answer is yes to both like there’s stuff going on that, um, gets in this kiddo’s way for both, and then for adults too. Being told your whole life, you know, stop it, you know, knock it off when it’s something that’s happening at a very physiological neurological level that he can’t just turn off.

(5:55)  That brings an interesting question, what should parents be looking for? Because you know, a lot of times it is, will you just chill out or will you just calm down or stop it? That’s not real or whatever the case is. 

Yeah, I think like there’s aspects to ADHD that certainly stand out. But as it turns out, um, a lot of kids who have ADHD, um, they have a lot of sensory sensitivities or what we call sensory over responsivity to things and those sensitivities, those over, over responsivities  to movement, to touch in particular to sound a lot of the time, uh, for kids with ADHD, those sensitivities show up,, before the ah, the ADHD symptomology  does.  so if, as a parent, if you’re thinking back on your child, and you’re wondering if there’s ADHD or you’re wondering if they’re sensory for that matter, like if you think back, was the baby particularly sensitive to certain um fabrics, was the baby particularly foods was the baby particularly sensitive to sounds, um, cause what they’re, what research is showing is that those modulation issues or over responsivity issues are showing up before a lot of the ADHD signs. And so you can start, to help address those for our child, so they’re more comfortable in the world.  That’s not going to make ADHD appear or not appear, but it certainly might reduce some of the anxiety, which is another really common condition for those with ADHD, adult, and child. 

So I think it comes down to it always just comes down to a question, listening. 

Yeah. I’m paying attention. Yeah, right?  And that behavior isn’t like looking at behavior as a form of communication, not as “I’m trying to piss you off.”

Right. Right. And that’s important because a lot of times, especially even in relationships as adults, you know, the, the way that some people act versus the way that other people act is, is very difficult. I think that, you know, we’ve seen that in a lot of the people we’ve had on the podcast, people in relationships and, you know, married people and even, even, even people in the workforce, they talk about the things that they do.  Um, you know, oh, it just drove me crazy and I didn’t know why it always affected me. And I always thought well you know, I think you also have to find the difference between “it drove me crazy” because, you know, you’re, there’s something sincerely wrong and it drove me crazy because, you know, the guys just being an asshole.

It’s totally right. Totally. Cause you know, there’s definitely that aspect of people you can’t always put off that you’re not a great human on like something else. Sometimes people just aren’t great humans, but, but I think for like, a lot of. people with ADHD or, you know, and, or sensory processing issues. like if you don’t know that about yourself, but there’s this aspect to your brain/body connection that you really can’t control, there is no controlling it. Like how much of what you experienced and the things you feel bad about. Like when, you know, when it comes to like the way you see yourself could, could be so different.

(8:56) What can people look for? You know, a lot of times I get emails all the time. People say, oh, I was listening to, um, you know, Faster Than Normal, and for the first time I, I saw myself and I realized that I’m not so weird and not such a screw up. What can people look for, and, and, and look inside themselves and see and say, Hey, you know, this might be this.It’s not just me being a screw up. 

Yeah, no, that’s such a good question because it’s really hard. Like if you’ve been this way, your whole life, you know, how do you know that it’s not, you just, you look around and you think everybody else is probably experiencing the same thing. They just are handling it better. Right?  But I think like if there’s lots of different, um, things you can look at, there’s actually, um, You know, like they’re all over the place, but you can look up free, um, checklists and, and red flag lists and kind of go through them. There’s some for adults and there’s some for kids and you can just kind of like, um, online, you can pull them up and you can see like, how many of these things did I circle? Like, Oh, maybe, maybe this is me, or if you find like, especially for the over sensitivity stuff, like, um, how often did I experience that, and really felt like I had to flee, right? Like I had a fight or flight response. Like I couldn’t stand it. It was not just a thought. It was a feeling in my body, like get the hell out.

And is that from a chemical perspective? What is that? Is that, is that Dopamine, is that adrenaline? 

No, it’s not. Well, I mean, you, you have an adrenaline response. It’s not dopamine or adrenaline, what it actually is is that literally your neurology when you are, when you have some sensory over responsivity, we know from physiological testing that the brain, actually, these people feel sensation either more intensely than other people do.  We actually have graphs that show, that how the brain is interpreting. They either feel it more intensely. They feel it for longer, right? or it builds over time. So literally their neurology is functioning differently, and this is coming in to the brain at the bottom, you know, like at your emotional and fear centers at no subcortical levels.  And is, is there before the frontal lobe, that judgment place, um, can actually make sense of anything you are already like your brain is, it’s called the amygdala hijacking.  Like your brain is already gone. So it doesn’t matter once your thinking brain makes sense of it, your body’s already in full blown response.

Wow. Yeah, that’s kind of fascinating. I mean, I, you know, you don’t think that it, that it, I guess, yeah, everything starts immediately. 

Yeah, and it’s, it’s interesting because also a lot of kids, at least I don’t think, um, I don’t think there’s been research on adults, but kids who have ADHD also have a lot of problems with what we call, um, Praxis or motor planning. It’s also called developmental coordination disorder, and it’s this connection between like your thinking brain. Like, I want to get this done and your body of how to, you know, sequencing things and planning and all those things that we always think is like this cognitive um, issue with kids with ADHD, there’s a body component to it, that’s coming from like… this ability to process tactile information and movement information, and body information. And so, they don’t have those foundations to rest their cognitive thinking on, so they have great thoughts maybe, but because that brain body connection is so weak, they can’t carry them out.

Very interesting. Where can….. people find more about you because this is, this is first of all, we’re gonna have you back on, no question about…. after the new year, but where can people find out more about you? This is fascinating. 

About me or about what I do??..

About you, about the work that you’re doing, not you specifically, your favorite colors, …games.  [laughter]

I was gonna say hopefully not alot of people.. I’m doing my life right. But, um, about sensory processing. So Star Institute, I would go to STAR Institute and that’s where we have those checklists for people to look at, there’s information there. What is sensory processing? Um, 

all sorts of information on research, um, on education, on treatments, on, we have a blog, like there’s lots of information out there in the world. There’s tons, if you put in sensory processing or sensory integration is another term that’s used, and you stick that in Google, there’s all sorts of things. There’s lots out there on ADHD with sensory processing. 

I have a feeling, a lot of parents are looking at their kids right now and going, hummm.  that’s interesting. So I think you,,, I think you might have changed a bunch of lives there. might have a bunch of lives…..awesome.  Mim, ah, Ochshen….let me get this right, Ochsenbein? 

You’re close….

Ochsenbein?  

You’ve got it. 

Alright, Mim, Ochsenbein,  thank you so much for taking the time, I do appreciate it. Uh, this is a phenomenal episode. We will, like I said, we’ll definitely have you back.  Guys, check out the starting super sensory processing, you can learn a lot more there. We will be back next week with another episode, as always feel free to send this to people you think we should interview. We would love to hear about them. That’s how we found you and, um, reach out, have yourselves a wonderful day, stay safe, wear a mask, and we will talk to you soon. Thanks so much for listening. ADHD is a gift, not a curse. 

Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were performed by Steven Byrom and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week. 

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