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Sensory Processing

Published on Monday, August 14, 2023

Sensory Processing

Sensory Processing + ASD

People with Autism and sights, awareness of body cues (interoception). to internal sensitivities also position and body might experience differences touch. They may (vestibular), awareness of balance (proprioception), and with sounds, smells, taste have trouble.

HYPERSENSITIVITY means that individuals experience various reactions to certain stimuli. Bright lights or certain light wavelengths can be overwhelming. Certain sounds, smells, textures, and tastes can also be troubling.

This can result in SENSORY AVOIDANCE. This means that they might try to get away from stimuli that most people can easily tune out. It can take a lot of effort to spend all day under LED or fluorescent lights, navigate a crowded space or process conversations in rooms with background noise.

HYPOSENSITIVITY means that an individual can have trouble recognizing sensations. They may not notice when they are hungry or ill. They may be attracted to things like loud noises or bright lights.

This may result in a need for movement and SENSORY SEEKING. People with autism may stimulate their senses by making loud noises, touching people or objects, or rocking back and forth.

STIMMING is a form of sensory seeking, and helps to keep their nervous systems in balance. Repetitive movements, sounds, or fidgeting can help people with autism stay calm, relieve stress or block out uncomfortable sensory input.Repetitive movements, sounds, or fidgeting can help people with autism stay calm, relieve stress or block out uncomfortable sensory input.

SENSORY OVERLOAD happens when intense sensory stimulus overwhelms your ability to cope. This can be triggered by a single event, like an unexpected loud noise, or it can build up over time due to the effort it takes to cope with sensory sensitivities in daily life.

Sensory Input - Accommodations

At UPD, we use tools and strategies to help patients cope with their environment. We try to adapt to each individual patient, working within the treatment triangle to provide resources and comfort. Our facility is designed for this, with an occupational therapy component designed to assist patients with various needs. We will get into this, but for now it is important to understand what kind of accommodations these patients may look for.

Hypersensitive patients may:

  • Need light covers, sunglasses or a hat under fluorescent lights
  • Wear ear plugs or headphones in noisy environments
  • Avoid strongly scented products
  • Chooses foods that avoid aversions to textures, temperatures or spices
  • Wear soft, comfortable clothing
  • Adjust schedules to avoid crowds

Hyposensitive patients might:

  • Use visual supports for those who have difficulty processing spoken information
  • Use fidget toys, chewies and other sensory tools
  • Arrange furniture to provide safe, open spaces
  • Take frequent movement breaks
  • Eat foods with strong flavors or mixed textures
  • Use a weighted blanket, lap pads or clothing that provides deep pressure

The TACTILE SYSTEM includes nerves under the skin’s surface that send information to the brain. A dysfunctional tactile system may lead to a misperception of touch and pain. Abnormal neural signals are sent to the cortex in the brain and disrupt the brain’s process.

The PROPRIOCEPTIVE system refers to components of muscles, joints, and tendons that provide a person with a subconscious awareness of body position. Fine motor movements motor planning may be disrupted.

The VESTIBULAR SYSTEM refers to structures within the inner ear (the

semi-circular canals) that detect movement and changes in the position of the head. Children can appear clumsy or actively seek very intense sensory experiences like excessive body whirling, jumping, or spinning.

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Categories: General, Adults



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