What’s Your Superpower?


We joke with our kids and tell them that their Sensory Processing Disorder gives them superpowers – and it does, in a weird way.  Those same brain differences that let them hear minutia can become overwhelming: neurotypicals don’t experience pain because of hearing lights or high frequencies the way our kids do.  I don’t have SPD so I can’t fully relate to the kids, but I’m hypersensitive.  So is Mr. Genius.  And it’s not always a good thing.

Why on earth would a superhero ever want to have such a sensitive sense of smell that changing a dirty diaper makes them vomit?  That’s Mr. Genius – and I handled countless diaper changes for all three kids during their baby years and let him off the hook.  Anyone else might think he was trying to get out of doing the dirty work – not me.  I get it.  It’s annoying and an extra burden for me, but I wouldn’t wish a vomit-induced migraine on anyone, especially someone I love.

True love is changing ALL the dirty diapers … just pointing that out!

Mr. Genius has such a sensitive nose that he can tell if someone is a cigarette smoker if they drive their car – windows up – by us while we walk down the sidewalk.  They don’t even have to be smoking at the time: he can smell the residue.  An actual smoker sitting just outside a store entrance is enough to trigger a migraine – it’s overwhelming and strong.  I marvel that people who smoke cannot even tell that it reeks so much – but perhaps it’s just not a strong odor to them like it is for us.

We avoid the perfume counters in department stores.  We’ll even make a wide circle around them to get to where we need to go.  And heaven help us if someone is drenched in cologne or perfume and walks past us at the mall – that’s pure torture.  So are breath mints.  My grandmother used to use altoids for her cough and I couldn’t stand it.  I’m sure I looked rude when I tried to turn my face away or moved a little further to get some distance, but it’s too overwhelming.  Too much.


Mr. Genius and I commiserated together the other day after I asked if he had changed the air filters yet – he correctly identified my reasoning and told me he already tried to fix the air flow issue.  We had both noticed that the upstairs air intake was quietly whistling back and forth by thirds.  Most neurotypicals wouldn’t have even noticed that it was whistling, let alone that it was changing notes in such a precise, irritating, annoying, and inescapable way.


My personal superpower is mold detection.  Not the airborne kind – goodness no, I could make millions if that was the case.  Nope, I can taste it.  Even at minute strengths before you can even see it.  I can smell it on food fairly well, but my taste buds go into instant revolt if I eat any food with the slightest bit of mold.  I’ve been known to spit food (discretely) into a napkin because I just can’t stand to have it in my mouth any longer or I’ll puke.  Yuck!

I took the Princess out to see the latest My Little Pony movie (there’s 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back) and then out to eat.  I ordered sweet iced tea – a Southern thing – and promptly realized that it was contaminated with mold.  I’m sure the staff thought I was nuts when I handed them the cup back and requested a fresh one from a different container.  I could taste it.  It tastes bad!  And worse, it meant the tea containers hadn’t been cleaned out correctly in this otherwise clean restaurant.  Eww.

I sometimes say that I live in an HD world while neurotypicals live in a bland, basic t.v. channel kind of world.  I would trade all of that for not being so sensitive.  To have nerves that didn’t scream at the slightest thing, to have a normal sense of smell, taste, and hearing.  To be “normal” instead of feeling like a freak.  


I’m sure there are some pretty cool superpowers that I have that are actually fun to live with.  I don’t really think about them that much because to me, it’s just normal.  The more negative ones stand out – they cause issues.  They make our lives more difficult.  Which is why I’m writing about mold instead of getting goosebumps from hearing music.


So what about you?  Do you (or your kids) have a weird, off-the-wall superpower too?  I’m curious!





  1. Smells. Mold at the grocery store. I can tell when the oranges are moldy. It has a specific smell. Breads, I can smell the corn syrup in every last loaf from aisles away. We duck in and out of the ends of the laundry aisle because it’s so toxic smelling. Lights. Noises. Physical proximity of another person – think I can hear the their bodies cutting off sounds. Touch – clothing around my neck makes me feel like I can’t breathe. Tags, fabric textures, and anything in my hair makes me twitchy. I can predict weather changes with physical and mental symptoms. All of it causes anxiety, constant tension, like an itch. Mini-me has it all too.


  2. My not-so-super-all-the-time power is empathy. It is great sometimes, but it can be overwhelming. I think of it like a faucet… turned on to usable levels it’s fine, but sometimes it blasts out like a jet of uncontrollable water.


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