Early Childhood Featured Tip of the Month
You see, hear, smell, touch and taste things -- your senses give you clues about the world around you. Most of the time your brain is working behind the scenes, sorting and categorizing all the sensory input, telling you what you like and don’t like and how you should react. For children with autism spectrum disorders, the way they experience sensory input may be different than the way you do. They may over- or under-react, like finding certain kinds of lighting and sounds distressing and preferring to only eat certain foods because of the texture, smell, or taste. They may wear only one type of clothing because of how it feels on their body, often finding tags and seams uncomfortable. The scent of an object or person may be appealing, or distressing. They may walk a bit awkwardly, have an unusual posture, have difficulty with balance, or not understand when they are standing too close to someone. You may notice them showing little or no reaction to pain, such as ear infections or broken bones; however, experience smaller things, such as a hangnail as traumatic. They may not sense the feelings of hot or cold, like not understanding that a cup of hot chocolate could burn their mouth. Every individual is different. So be aware of a child’s sensory preferences and difficulties, and how he reacts to things that he sees, touches, hears, and smells. Addressing the sensory needs of children with ASD can help them make sense of the world, while having a positive impact on their comfort and ability to participate in day-to-day activities.