People with autism may have difficulty processing information that comes to them through their senses. Even though the sensory organs themselves are working correctly the information is not able to be processed in the usual manner in the brain.
A sensory information processing deficiency may be displayed by:
- sensitivity to surrounding environments and an inability to distinguish irrelevant stimuli,
- capabilities and the capacity to respond to stimulus may vary daily. Performance is characterised by discrepancies, inconsistencies and variability,
- ignoring some sounds but overreact or hypersensitive to others,
- playing with, seeking out or selectively reacting to certain sounds,
- actively avoiding eye contact, brief or lacking in social intent,
- using peripheral vision rather than central vision (therefore gives the appearance of not giving eye contact or looking),
- focusing intently on the small visual details of walls, furniture, objects, prints, pictures or body parts but does not see the whole picture,
- displaying an intense interest in light or shiny reflective surfaces e.g. may filter light through fingers or stare at lights or reflections in glasses, watch water going down the plughole,
- exploring by smelling or mouthing objects, people and surfaces,
- eating difficulties that could be related to the smell, texture or flavour of food,
- chewing or eat things that are not food,
- demonstrating high thresholds to pain,
- an inability to feel extremes of temperature,
- participating in repetitive movements such as rocking, bouncing, flapping arms and hands, or spinning with no apparent dizziness,
- seeking out vibrations,
- moving hands or body in unusual (often rigid) postures,
- difficulty with identifying where their body is in space and planning motor movements,
- walking on tiptoes,
- rocking, spinning or flapping their hands to stimulate sensation, to help with balance and posture or to deal with stress,
- experiencing disturbed sleep patterns, and
- having difficulty with toilet training.
At AEIOU Foundation, we focus on supporting children by using strategies and practices that are shown to be effective through research. As a result, we assist children and their sensory needs in our program with a supported, behavioural approach.