What Resources Are There To Help With Sensory Issues
- Learn how occupational therapy can help people with autism learn to better process sensory input in everyday environments.
- Learn how feeding therapy can address aversions to tastes and food textures, as well as under- and over-sensitivities that can hamper chewing and swallowing.
- Learn how speech therapy can use sensitivity-reducing and sensory-stimulating activities to improve speech, swallowing and related muscle movements.
- Learn how cognitive behavioral therapy can help manage anxiety and gradually increase tolerance to overwhelming sensory experiences.
- View Autism Speaks Autism-Friendly Events Calendar for a list of sensory-friendly events in your area
- Learn about sensory processing disorder and potential accommodations at work.
Therapy For Asd And Spd
As mentioned, there have been plenty of therapies and approaches that have been studied for autism and sensory processing disorder. Currently, ASD is best treated using ABA therapy, or Applied Behavioral Analysis. Essentially, it uses a style of programming to help kids learn by offering them a reward in exchange for acquiring skills or learning various things.
Occupational therapy is used for sensory processing disorders, including things like teaching children coordination and how to handle other sensitivity issues through exposure and practice over time. An occupational therapist will focus on the specific sensitivities that a child has and attempt to work on improving the challenges that they face. Sensory integration is proving quite effective as a solution, but since the debate on this disorder is still out, there is a lot left to learn. As of now, we at least know that occupational therapy is helping children with sensory issues, and in the future, thats only likely to get better.
To learn more about how these issues can be resolved with ABA and occupational therapy, as well as what the future holds and how you can help your child thrive, visit us at.
How Can I Help Support Sensory Processing Difficulties In Asd
The good news is that you can use numerous sensory strategies and make many environmental adjustments. The challenge is that, as every child or adult with autism has a different sensory profile, there is no one size fits all solution. Each person with sensory challenges will require their own unique set of supports. An occupational therapist is typically the best professional to provide you with support in this area.
The most recent recommendation from the American Journal of Occupational Therapy is that, before sensory strategies are used, there must be documented assessment of need. Without assessment, a child may just be given what is available. For example, a wobble cushion helped Jack last year, so lets give it to Suzie this year.
It is really important that those providing sensory strategies have a good understanding of which senses the equipment or activity helps. This is why we explain clearly why you might use each strategy and the safety considerations in our online Sensory Processing Disorder training.
You May Like: Why Vaccines Dont Cause Autism
Myth #: Theres No Such Thing As Sensory Processing Issues
Fact: Doctors and other specialists can see the challenges these issues cause. Its true theres no formal diagnosis of sensory processing issues. And theres debate over the terms sensory processing disorder and sensory integration disorder. But that doesnt mean these struggles arent real. In fact, occupational therapists often create specific treatment plans for sensory challenges.
Sensory Processing Issues Fact Sheet
- Coming soonGoogle Classroom
What About Sensory Processing Disorder In Adults
Adults have sensory processing disorders too. Most often, these sensory symptoms have existed since childhood. Sometimes a sensory disorder is better managed in adulthood because adults have greater autonomy over their daily life and can choose to live their life in a way that avoids some sensory challenges. Nevertheless, adults can seek treatment too.
Recommended Reading: What Help Is There For Autism
What Are The 3 Patterns Of Sensory Processing Disorders
The severity and symptoms of sensory processing problems greatly vary from one person to another.
These problems can occur in any of the senses, be it visual, auditory, smell or interoception.
There have been three patterns of sensory processing disorders identified, consisting of six subtypes of SPD.
Most of the individuals with the SPD have a combination of symptoms from more than one subtype.
The following chart will give a basic idea.
Responses Can Also Change
Responses to sensory inputs can fluctuate and change. Children and adults with sensory issues can find these harder to manage towards the end the day. Or towards the end of the week or school term. Tiredness or ill-health can exacerbate sensory issues. Clinically, I have seen a significant difference in childrens ability to manage sensory sensitivities when they are well compared to if they are unwell. Autistic children can often have even less reserve when they are unwell. This can lead to quicker sensory overload.
Another thing that will impact on sensory processing is stress. There is some research in this area. It indicates that anxiety can increase sensory sensitivity. However, it also shows that sensory sensitivity can increase anxiety. The author was unable to tease out which came first though, liking it to a chicken and egg scenario.
Also Check: What Do You Call A Person With Autism
Interventions To Help With Sensory Processing Difficulties
Whilst the new DSM-5 includes hyper or hypo sensitivity and unusual sensory interests under the domain Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests and activities, it is important to note there is currently inadequate clinical research into the effectiveness of some specific sensory based therapies. As such, it is important when choosing interventions for sensory sensitivities that these should be assessed carefully and with the overarching needs of the individual in mind.
Modification of the environment is the most accessible intervention for sensory processing difficulties. This involves assessing a childs sensory processing characteristics by considering their reactions to everyday experiences and modifying aspects of these experiences to counteract their hyper or hypo sensitivities. For example, a child who is overwhelmed by the noises and crowds in the high school hallway between classes may be encouraged to wear a hoodie and listen to music on an MP3 player during the transition between classes to moderate their visual and auditory stimulation. More ideas for environmental modifications for children with sensory processing difficulties at school and at home are available at the Sensory Processing Disorder website.
Does Sensory Processing Disorder Affect Learning
While Sensory Processing Disorder isnt a learning disorder, the symptoms can impede how a child learns within a classroom setting. For example, a child with SPD who is oversensitive may be bothered by the classroom lights, noises within the classroom , feeling uncomfortable in their clothes, can get upset when there are sudden changes in the classroom routine .
In addition, the noises and smells in the school cafeteria can also be bothersome to a child with SPD. A teacher cannot expect a child to learn a new math concept, write a paragraph, or read and comprehend a story if the childs shirt tag is making them itchy or the florescent lights in the classroom are too bright for their eyes, or they hear the toilet constantly flushing outside the classroom.
Another example is an undersensitive child who may have trouble sitting still at a desk, and they may constantly touch classroom materials and continuously bump into desks and chairs in which their teacher may consider them to be impulsive. The undersensitive child may also have trouble making and keeping friends because they are too rough when they play with their peers, or they may have trouble standing still long enough to have a conversation with a peer.
Concerned Your Child May Have Spd Here Are 10 Symptoms Of Sensory Processing Disorder That You Need To Look Out For:
While SPD can be difficult to diagnose, there are distinctive behaviors to be on the lookout for. Weve put together 10 of the most common indicators of SPD, but recommend you use this as a guide only. If youre concerned that your child may have SPD, its best to consult with a doctor or occupational therapist.
Difficulty Learning New Things
Children with SPD tend to struggle learning new activities, and often take longer than other children to master the same activity. This can lead to mild developmental delays.
The signs of SPD vary greatly and arent always easy to diagnose. There are, however, certain behaviors that require attention and treatment. By diagnosing SPD early you can ensure your child gets the necessary tools to lead a fulfilling life.
Read Also: Is Next For Autism A Good Charity
Symptoms Of Sensory Processing Disorder
Sensory processing disorder may affect one sense, like hearing, touch, or taste. Or it may affect multiple senses. And people can be over- or under-responsive to the things they have difficulties with.
Like many illnesses, the symptoms of sensory processing disorder exist on a spectrum.
In some children, for example, the sound of a leaf blower outside the window may cause them to vomit or dive under the table. They may scream when touched. They may recoil from the textures of certain foods.
But others seem unresponsive to anything around them. They may fail to respond to extreme heat or cold or even pain.
Many children with sensory processing disorder start out as fussy babies who become anxious as they grow older. These kids often don’t handle change well. They may frequently throw tantrums or have meltdowns.
Many children have symptoms like these from time to time. But therapists consider a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder when the symptoms become severe enough to affect normal functioning and disrupt everyday life. Does My Child Have Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder?
Differences Between Autism And Sensory Processing Disorder
Studies have been conducted to show the differences between children with autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder. In one study, 210 participants were included with 68 having autism spectrum disorder, 79 having sensory processing disorder, and 63 with typical development . Any child who had ASD with SPD was not included in the study.
Children were scored for Sensory Over-Reactivity , where sensory items bother a child Sensory Under-Reactivity , where sensory items were not noticed by the child and Sensory Craving , where the child needed certain sensory stimulation. They were also scored for their Empathy Quotient , or how easily or strongly they reacted to or were able to gauge another persons feelings. Finally, the children were scored for their Systemizing Quotient , or how interested the child was in understanding how the internal components of a machine worked.
They found that for Sensory Under-Reactivity, the ASD group scored higher than the SPD group, which scored higher than the TD group. For Sensory Over- Reactivity, the ASD and SPD groups were relatively the same, but much higher than the TD group. For Sensory Craving, the ASD and SPD groups were about the same as each other, but with higher scores than the TD group. In the category of Systemizing Quotient, children with ASD scored higher than both the SPD and TD groups.
You May Like: When You Run Over The Autistic Kid
Sensory Processing Disorder The Ultimate Guide
Autism spectrum disorder is named due to the spectrum of disorders within the category. These would include autistic disorder, aspergers syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified .
The causes for autism are not known, however some factors may be biological or genetic Environmental factors have also been considered, and the prescription drugs, valproic acid or thalidomide, while used in pregnancy, have been associated with a higher risk.
While there is no cure for autism, early treatment is better for development, with therapy aiding in speech delays, walking, and social interaction. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that a child under the age of 36 months who may have a developmental delay could possibly qualify for services within their local district.
People With Autism Might Have Sensitivities To:
- Awareness of body position and movement
- Awareness of internal body cues and sensations
Autistic people can experience both hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity to a wide range of stimuli. Most people have a combination of both.
Many autistic people experience hypersensitivity to bright lights or certain light wavelengths . Certain sounds, smells, textures and tastes can also be overwhelming. This can result in sensory avoidance trying to get away from stimuli that most people can easily tune out. Sensory avoidance can look like pulling away from physical touch, covering the ears to avoid loud or unpredictable sounds, or avoiding certain kinds of clothing.
Hyposensitivity is also common. This can look like a constant need for movement difficulty recognizing sensations like hunger, illness or pain or attraction to loud noises, bright lights and vibrant colors. People who are hyposensitive may engage in sensory seekingto get more sensory input from the environment. For example, people with autism may stimulate their senses by making loud noises, touching people or objects, or rocking back and forth.
Don’t Miss: Can Autism Spectrum Disorder Be Cured
Kids With Autism Sensory Processing Disorders Show Brain Wiring Differences
UCSF Study Builds on its Groundbreaking Research Showing Children with SPD Have Measureable Brain Differences
Researchers at UC San Francisco have found that children with sensory processing disorders have decreased structural brain connections in specific sensory regions different than those in autism, further establishing SPD as a clinically important neurodevelopmental disorder.
The research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first study to compare structural connectivity in the brains of children with an autism diagnosis versus those with an SPD diagnosis, and with a group of typically developing boys. This new research follows UCSFs groundbreaking study published in 2013 that was the first to find that boys affected with SPD have quantifiable regional differences in brain structure when compared to typically developing boys. This work showed a biological basis for the disease but prompted the question of how these differences compared with other neurodevelopmental disorders.
With more than 1 percent of children in the U.S. diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and reports of 5 to 16 percent of children having sensory processing difficulties, its essential we define the neural underpinnings of these conditions, and identify the areas they overlap and where they are very distinct, said senior author Pratik Mukherjee, MD, PhD, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging and bioengineering at UCSF.
Distinguishing Sensory Processing Disorder From Autism
I came across this article and I thought it was a good one to share! Although Autism awareness is on the rise, fewer people know about Sensory Processing Disorder . If you would like some general information about SPD and Autism, check out the websites pasted below:
Sensory Processing Disorders and autism are two conditions that can exist one without the other or they can be comorbid. Making a clear distinction between the two is important especially since SPD can look like autism. SPD is diagnosed by an occupational therapist that is trained in sensory integration. A child with SPD can easily be misdiagnosed for a child with ASD due to sensory processing problems/symptoms children with autism experience. As I have defined in previous blogs, ASD is a neurological disorder that affects normal brain function and significantly impacts development of the persons communication and social interaction skills. SPD was formerly known as sensory integration dysfunction. Our neurological system helps process signals received from our senses by turning them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Therefore, SPD affects how a person receives, integrates and makes sense of sensory information.
Here are some ways to distinguish SPD in young children, as the characteristics below are unique to SPD. As always, feel free to post any questions.
Read Also: Could Autism Be An Autoimmune Disorder
Relationship To Other Disorders
Sensory integration and processing difficulties can be a feature of a number of disorders, including anxiety problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ,food intolerances, behavioral disorders, and particularly, autism spectrum disorders. This pattern of comorbidities poses a significant challenge to those who claim that SPD is an identifiably specific disorder, rather than simply a term given to a set of symptoms common to other disorders.
Two studies have provided preliminary evidence suggesting that there may be measurable neurological differences between children diagnosed with SPD and control children classified as neurotypical or children diagnosed with autism. Despite this evidence, that SPD researchers have yet to agree on a proven, standardized diagnostic tool undermines researchers’ ability to define the boundaries of the disorder and makes correlational studies, like those on structural brain abnormalities, less convincing.
Sensory Processing And Attention Profiles Among Children With Sensory Processing Disorders And Autism Spectrum Disorders
- 1Department of Occupational Therapy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States
- 2Occupational Therapy Division, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States
- 3Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax, VA, United States
- 4Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, United States
- 5Department of Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Neuroscience, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States
- 6School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, United States
Recommended Reading: Can A Pediatrician Diagnose Autism
Sensory Processing Disorder Vs Autism
Sensory processing disorder and autism commonly overlap, as individuals with autism regularly struggle to process sensory information. Rates of sensory processing dysfunction may be as high as 90% in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and are estimated to be between 5% and 16% in the general population1.
But that doesnt mean that any child with SPD is also diagnosed with autism. Someone with autism can exhibit a wide variety of symptoms such as being non-verbal or delayed in speech, obsessive interests, low to no social skills, avoiding eye contact, unusual eating and sleeping habits, meltdowns, and unusual mood or emotional reactions2. When children present with sensory processing impairments in the absence of any other childhood disorder, it is known as Sensory Processing Disorder.