I Faced My Worst Fear: Disney World
As a kid with a sensory processing disorder, a lot of things that were meant to be fun were actually terrifying. As an adult, I'm making up for the experiences I missed out on.
Illustration by Haejin Park | Edited by Lilly Dancyger
I stare up at Cinderella Castle. The glittery blue and gray monolith doesn’t look as imposing as it once did — it’s been nearly 20 years since I last saw Walt Disney World’s most iconic structure in person. But even though it doesn’t elicit the fear it used to, my heart is still pounding and my palms are sweaty, the byproduct of a childhood association few experience. It’s not the reaction Disney World garners from most adults, but then again, I’m not most adults. I’ve spent decades living with severe sensory and anxiety disorders.
Sensory processing disorder manifests in different ways, but at its core the condition is essentially the same: The brain has trouble processing and responding to information received through any of the senses. In my case, that means I’m easily overwhelmed by sound, especially new and loud sounds. For instance, as a child, the popping of a balloon at a birthday party could send me to seek refuge in the ba…
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