Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) usually present a sensory processing disorder. This means that they overreact to the stimulus of the environment. For example, they cover their ears when they hear noises, they don't want to enter the grocery store because of the different types of smells, they reject a certain type of clothes and textures, some colors or lights may irritate them, etc.
On the other hand, they can show a special fascination for some kind of noises, sensitivity predilection for a specific color, or only eat some kind of food of the same texture. There are multiple combinations, every child is unique.
Every sense (touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight) provides us information about the environment. The brain rearranges all that information that enters through the senses and gives meaning to the things that surround us.
Sensory difficulties in ASD directly affect learning as well as daily life routines, affecting hygiene habits such as showering, cutting hair, dressing or washing hands and teeth. In addition to eating or sleeping problems.
That's why it is important to teach our children appropriate strategies to be inserted in the environment more adaptively and improve their quality of life.
We will have to identify with professional help the sensory difficulties of our children to know the best strategy for them.
Tips to help your child
Parents must use strategies at home to help them, that’s why in my next blog post I'm going to talk about some strategies to stimulate the senses of our children. But now I want to give you some tips to help you go through this:
- First, it is important to identify the problem, as I always say, you know your child better than anyone and you know when something is not going right.
- Realize that you should start intervention as soon as possible to provide them with the resources they need.
- Seek professional help. It is important to provide the child with the appropriate intervention and as a family to consult with relevant professionals in the field.
- Anticipate emotional crises. Parents should learn to identify what factors can trigger a possible meltdown in their child (noises, lights, textures, smells)
- Learn to regulate your child. Know what helps him to calm down. Control the environment: organizing and structuring time and space helps preserve stability. Help him return to calm and then offer him positive and calming experiences: a hug, a massage, his favorite blanket or toy. A perfect way of doing this could be using our Sensory Toys Boxes. They include different types of materials that provide a relaxing experience. Water beads, squishy toys, rice, beans and more are there to help your child feel better.
Finally, I want to clarify that there are children who have a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder (SPD) but not a diagnosis of Autism. Many times the SPD is associated with Autism but it is not a rule.
“Autism cuts me off from my own body, so I feel nothing. It can also make me so aware of what I feel that it is painful” Donna Williams