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.
Do Attention Abilities Alone Predict Group Membership
The second discriminant analysis evaluated how well the two attention domains alone could correctly classify each childs group membership. Function 1 significantly separated the TD group from the ASD and SPD groups however, the second function separating the ASD and SPD groups was not significant . The function correctly classified 52.2% of all participants compared to their group membership. The TD group had 58.3% correct classification, while 54.2% of children with ASD were correctly classified and 42.9% of children with SPD were correctly classified.
Sensory Processing Disorder Vs Autism
The Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder describes SPD as a disorder which affects how the nervous system receives and responds to sensory stimuli.Because the brain doesnt understand how to respond to stimuli, a child is likely to over or under-react. Many of these children have sensory processing difficulties without exhibiting any signs of autism.Autism, on the other hand, is seen to be a developmental disorder that impairs a childs ability to communicate, interact, and behave appropriately.
Interestingly, children with autism and SPD have been found to have measurable brain differences. Studies suggest that the brains of children with sensory processing disorder have decreased connectivity in regions responsible for sensory processing.While the brains of children with autism functioned differently in regions related to emotional development and memory.
Sensory Processing Disorder Activity
Other noteworthy differences include the fact children with SPD have more issues with touch than children with autism. Research has also found that children with autism process sound differently to those with SPD which could help explain why many struggle with language.
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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 The Combination Of Sensory Processing And Attention Abilities Predict Group Membership
Table 4. The results of the discriminant analysis that included measures from the Short Sensory Profile and the Test of Everyday Attention for Children to predict each participants group membership.
Figure 2. Territorial map for the full discriminant analysis model. The small circles, triangles, and diamonds represent individuals of their respective groups plotted according to the two functions. The x-axis represents function 1, which significantly separates the typically developing group from the two clinical groups of autism spectrum disorder and SPD. The y-axis represents function 2, which significantly separates the ASD and SPD children. The red squares represent the centroid .
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How Do I Get My Autistic Child To Eat
Mealtime issues are a common problem among parents, and children with autism are more likely to be highly selective and not eat.
However, there are things that you can try to help your child with their feeding.
Make sure there are no physical problems causing food aversion. Children with autism can have certain medical problems that could make eating uncomfortable for them.
These could be GI problems, dental cavities, or acid reflux. It is important that your child is screened by their doctors and such problems are addressed.
Take baby steps with positive reinforcement. Start small. Many children with autism are inclined to be resistant to new foods. You can take small steps to introduce new food. This could be simply putting the new food on the childs plate for only a few moments.
Reward your child once they successfully complete this baby step. Positive reinforcement can work wonders. Verbal praise is the most common type. Or you can use the token system , where the child can earn tangible rewards like their favorite toy or play time on the phone. Be specific when praising.
Try food chaining to expand the diet. Food chaining is a method used to introduce new foods into the diet of the child while also building on past successful feeding experiences.
In this method, the chain begins with an accepted food that the child eats reliably and willingly. The end of the chain is the goal food.
Occupational Therapy For Food Sensory Issues
There are some ways to help your child improve their processing of sensory information. However, not all can be done at home by yourself.
A therapist trained in this area can use specialized techniques appropriate to your childs needs.
One of the options is occupational therapy . Occupational therapists specialized in feeding and sensory processing can assess what the underlying concerns are and intervene in sensory ones.
Occupational therapists will analyze your childs diet in a detailed manner. They will determine appropriate foods.
Through the professional practices, your child will be able to warm-up their system with sensory-based activities.
If your child is showing oral defensiveness, they will also provide oral motor massage to alert your childs mouth to get it ready for feeding.
Through occupational therapy, your child will be presented with opportunities to develop positive oral experiences instead of negative ones.
They will be making use of toys and feeding utensils with different shapes and textures.
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Spd Or Asd: Finding The Right Diagnosis
It is important for parents to find a professional who can provide the correct diagnosis, as early as possible, so children can receive the appropriate treatment. Many doctors will try to help alleviate the sensory issues while treating the autism spectrum disorder, if that diagnosis applies.
Various skills that a child learns to do at different age levels is called a developmental milestone, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ,
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months or whenever a parent or provider has a concern. The CDC website has a list of the milestones by months and years, which parents can check to compare their childs progress and discuss with the pediatrician if there is a concern. Once it has been determined that the child is falling behind on any of the milestones, and if there is a concern of autism spectrum disorder, a recommendation should be made for the child to be examined by a specialist. This could be a developmental pediatrician, a pediatric neurologist, or possibly a child psychologist or psychiatrist.
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.
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Sensory Reactivity Empathizing And Systemizing In Autism Spectrum Conditions And Sensory Processing Disorder
A diagnostic confusion exists between ASD and SPD, both being associated with atypical sensory reactivity.
Our aim was to test whether children with ASC and SPD can be differentiated on sensory symptoms and/or cognitive styles in empathy and systemizing.
Across groups sensory symptoms and empathy showed a negative correlation with each other.
Both groups, children with ASC and SPD, showed significantly more sensory symptoms than typically developing children.
The ASC group showed lower empathy and higher systemizing compared to the SPD group cognitive styles seem useful for differentiating ASC and SPD.
Helping Autistic Children And Teenagers With Sensory Sensitivities
What you do to help your autistic child with sensory sensitivities depends on how your child reacts to sensory information.
If your child is easily overwhelmed by sensory information, you could try the following:
- Have a quiet space your child can go to when they feel overwhelmed.
- Give your child extra time to take in what youre saying.
- Introduce your child to new places at quiet times, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend there in later visits.
- Let your child try ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones to help with sound sensitivities.
Its also a good idea to speak with people ahead of time about your childs needs if youre going somewhere people might be able to adjust a few things to make it easier. For example, if youre making a playdate for your child, you could ask for it to be in a place thats familiar to your child. You could look out for cinemas that have sensory friendly movie screenings.
If your child needs more stimulation from the environment, you could try these suggestions:
- Arrange for extra playtime outside.
- Give your child toys that are extra-stimulating, like playdough or a squishy ball.
- Have a certain time of the day to listen to music or bounce on the trampoline.
- Speak loudly in an exaggerated way if your child tends to ignore sounds.
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How Is Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosed
Parents may recognize their childs behavior is not typical. But most parents may not know why. Dont be afraid to discuss your childs behavior with your doctor. He or she may refer you to an occupational therapist. These professionals can assess your child for SPD. He or she will likely watch your child interact in certain situations. The therapist will ask your child questions. All of these things will help make a diagnosis.
What Are Symptoms Of Sensory Processing Issues
Symptoms of sensory processing issues may depend on the way in which a child processes sensations.
Children who are easily stimulated may have hypersensitivity. Children who arent as easily stimulated experience fewer sensations and have hyposensitivity.
The type of sensitivity your child has may largely determine what their symptoms are.
For example, children who are hypersensitive often react as though everything is too loud or too bright. These kids may struggle being in noisy rooms. They may also have adverse reactions to smells.
These outsized reactions may cause:
- a low pain threshold
- fleeing without regard to safety
- covering eyes or ears frequently
- picky food preferences
But children who are hyposensitive crave interaction with the world around them. They may engage more with their surroundings to get sensory feedback.
In fact, this may make them appear hyperactive, when in reality, they may simply be trying to make their senses more engaged.
symptoms of sensory hyposensitivity
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Autism Spectrum Disorders Sensory Sensitivity And Food Selectivity
Various factors may contribute to food selectivity and a number of explanations have been proposed . One of these factors relates to sensory sensitivity . Ayres first described sensory defensiveness in the tactile domain in some children with learning and behavioral disorders. She described tactile defensiveness as an over-reaction to certain experiences of touch, often resulting in an observable aversion or negative behavioral response to certain tactile stimuli that most people would find innocuous. For example, children who show tactile defensiveness often have difficulty being cuddled and pull away from touch. It is possible that early tactile sensitivity may contribute to some of the sensory feeding issues such as difficulty with food textures seen in children with ASDs.
Overall, research indicates that sensory issues are extremely common in children with ASDs. In fact, some researchers have argued that atypical sensory processing should be one of the diagnostic criteria of ASDs . Sensory issues are seen in very young children, seem to persist, and are seen across a range of severity of ASDs.
Jen Blacow Assoc Cipd
Director at Aspiedent CIC / Teaching employers how beneficial it can be to employ autistic & neurodiverse staff and then showing them how
Sensory issues are often found in autism and include a person being either over-sensitive or under-sensitive to certain stimuli. For example, sound, touch, smell, and taste.
When we do autism profiles on individuals, it has become quite apparent to me that the sensory issues section of these profiles is in some cases, quite sparse compared to the other sections.
One common misunderstanding about sensory issues and autism is that only people with autism have sensory issues.
Sensory issues are indeed a large part of autism. But autism does not have a monopoly on sensory issues!
We once did a study and found that it was not possible to tell whether somebody had autism or did not have autism purely based on sensory issues that are present. Sensory issues are likely more prevalent in autism, and perhaps more severe. However, they do exist in the general population.
How many of you can relate to not being able to stand certain textures of food, or touching certain things?! These are all sensory issues.
Ask any room of non-autistic professional people if they need to go home to write a report to focus, and youll get a show of hands. This could be because they are hypersensitive to noise, or it could be because they cant concentrate due to the people who keep walking past their window .
Stranger sensory issues
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Signs Of Autism Meltdown
For some people with autism, sensory overload can become overwhelming. In these situations a person may have a meltdown. A change in routine can also precipitate a meltdown.
A meltdown is not a temper tantrum and can be experienced by someone with autism of any age. A meltdown should be managed by calming the person and addressing the cause of the distress.
Signs that a meltdown may be developing, sometimes known as the rumbling stage, include:
- Nail biting
- Chronic gastritis
- Chronic duodenitis
Many people with autism spectrum disorder also have food intolerances and may find that a diet which excludes gluten or casein helps.
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Sensory Processing Issues Signs And Symptoms
What you or your childs teacher might see depends on two things. The first is the trigger the sensory input thats overwhelming your child. The second is the type of sensory processing challenge your child has.
Kids who are sensory avoiding may react to a wide range of triggers. These can include loud sounds, uncomfortable clothing, crowded spaces, or certain food smells or textures, among others. Whatever the trigger, the reaction can sometimes be extreme.
Sensory overload can lead to sensory meltdowns. These are very different from tantrums because theyre out of the childs control.
Here are some other signs you might see in your child:
Is easily overwhelmed by people and places
Seeks out quiet spots in noisy, crowded environments
Is easily startled by sudden noises
Is bothered by bright light
Avoids touching people or hugging them
Has a strong reaction to the texture or smell of certain foods
Refuses to try new foods and has a very limited diet of preferred foods
Gets upset about small changes in routine or environment and avoids trying new things
Sensory information isnt limited to the traditional five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. Interoception is a lesser-known sense that helps you understand and feel whats going on in your body. Kids who have trouble with it may have a harder time with toilet training or have an unexpected threshold for pain.
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