Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are also struggling with Sensory Processing Disorder, but not all children with Sensory Processing Disorder are also affected by Autism. Here are some of the basic facts that you should know about Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder and how Abilities OT Services can help.
Autism is a developmental disorder affecting information processing. People with Autism typically have difficulties with communication, social interaction, sensory processing and motor skills. Autism affects every person differently, so the condition is typically referred to as a spectrum.
Signs That Your Autistic Child is Struggling with Sensory Integration Dysfunction
Always talk to your child’s doctor before attempting to diagnose them with anything, but pay attention to any of these signs of sensory integration dysfunction in your autistic child:
- Lack of eye contact
- Poor coordination
- Poor handwriting
- Repetitive physical behaviors like hand wringing, spinning or head banging
- Avoidance of physical contact
- A hard time identifying objects by touching them
- Decreased balance
- Raised shoulders, even when relaxed
- Avoiding physical play
- Fear of movement
- Learning challenges in the following: reading, math, sustained attention and/or exceptional skills in one or more subjects (but difficulty with applying those skills functionally)
- Hypersensitivity to environmental stimuli like light, especially fluorescents, sounds, smells and clothing textures
If your child with autism is struggling with sensory integration dysfunction, you may need to adjust the way that you interact with them every day. Keep in mind that basic physical expressions of care are extremely uncomfortable for your child, so a simple hug or light touch might be received poorly. Look for ways that you can reduce unpleasant sensations and keep track of materials or fabrics that your child reacts poorly too. Always work with your autistic child’s doctor to determine the best ways to tackle sensory integration dysfunction.
Sensory Processing 101
Sensory Processing Disorder is often dismissed as a child being overly sensitive, but in reality it is a neurological disorder that causes difficulties with processing sensory inputs. Sensory Processing Disorder affects all five senses: vision, touch, auditory, olfactory and taste. People affected by Sensory Processing Disorder will still perceive sensory input, but it is not processed properly, so it leads to extreme discomfort.
The Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms You Should Know
People with Sensory Processing Disorder can display a wide variety of symptoms, including the following:
Or the following symptoms, which indicate a hypersensitivity to their sensory inputs:
- Need to touch different textures or people, even when inappropriate
- Lack of understanding for personal space
- Clumsy movement
- High pain tolerance
- Lack of comprehension of their personal strength
- Constantly seeking thrill or dangerous activities
- Biological sensitivities
If your child demonstrates any of the above symptoms, take the time to visit with their pediatrician to get more information on how you can help. Over 70 % of children and adults with autism have mild to severe scotopic sensitivity syndrome or Irlen Syndrome, and can be helped with irlen tinted lenses worn as RX or PLANO No RX glasses and environmental modifications. Testing by a trained practitioner will provide an accurate diagnosis and intervention strategy.
Get the Help That Your Family Needs
Abilities OT Services provides consultations, seminars and dynamic educational training for therapists working with pediatric clients. We are partnered with the Irlen Diagnostics center to further assist our clients with visual sensitivities and sensory difficulties. To get started at home, complete a pre-assessment for Sensory Processing Disorder, schedule a free phone consultation, and learn more about the Irlen screening process, Irlen diagnostic testing, Irlen re-tint testing, and who we help.
The Irlen Method can be extremely helpful for children with Sensory Processing Disorder or autism. Irlen screenings provide a great deal of information and awareness of Sensory Processing Disorder symptoms and their causes. A whopping 15% of people have light sensitivity that could be aided with custom-designed Irlen tinted lenses. These tints can help your child to better manage their sensory inputs and navigate the world more comfortably.
For more information on how we can help your child to reach their full potential, read our client testimonials or call us today at (410) 358-7269.
At AOTSS of Baltimore, we are happy to offer a monthly Introduction to Irlen Pre-Assessment seminar free of charge. Register here for free monthly and continuing education and consumer seminars approved for CE use by professional licensing boards and the Maryland state Department of Education. Check out our seminars schedule to browse more upcoming events that may be of interest to you. Call 410-358-7269 or email Shoshana@aotss.com for more program info.