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Sensory issues

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Sensory issues are very common for people on the autism spectrum. Individuals vary in their responses to sensation -- some may be hypersensitive (over-sensitive) to some things, and hyposensitive (under-sensitive) to others. Any range and combination of the senses may be affected.

It's common for a child on the autism spectrum to have difficulty filtering out background sounds in order to focus on one particular voice.

HypersensitivityEdit

Hypersensitive individuals will generally go to great lengths to avoid certain types of sensory stimulation. It is advisable for people with hypersensitivity problems to try and find items that will help them cope, and avoid having a sensory overload. Items like gloves, ear protection, certain fabrics, sunglasses, hoods, hats, ect. may work to cut down the stimulative effect of the environment they are in. Whatever works for you.

Hyperhearing: People with hyperhearing may wear ear protection for everyday sounds, cover or plug their ears, flinch, cringe, or even double over covering their ears because of certain sounds. They may become annoyed, irritated, or even feel nauseous or ill because of the sounds others are able to ignore, or sounds that other people don't even notice (the sound of chewing, the sound of breathing, the sound of food being digested, lights buzzing, etc). People with hyperhearing often have great difficulty concentrating on their work because of all of the noises around them. This difficulty in concentration may be misdiagnosed as ADD/ADHD, or other disorders related to concentration. People with hyperhearing may also have difficulty sleeping, because for them, the world is never a quiet place.

Hypertactility: Hypertactile indeviduals often resist being touched, hugged, or kissed. They are often unable to wear certain fabrics, or certain types of clothes - bras, pants, underwear, or other close-fitting items may cause much irritation and/or discomfort for some individuals. People with hypertactility may be picky eaters, as the textures of certain foods can be too much to handle (These foods differ from person to person). Hypertactile people may also have difficulty with wearing certain shoes, socks, using toothbrushes, brushes, combs, or other items with a high to medium sensory output. Women with hypertactality may also choose to keep their hair short, as their hair brushing against their skin can be irritating. Deep touch and pressure is usually less irritating for hypertactile indeviduals.

Hypervision: For people with hypervision, colors and lights can be overwhelming and even painful. They often have problems with sensory overload, and often choose to wear things like sunglasses that reduce glare, and hooded jackets which reduces/covers up their peripheral vision.

Hypertaste: People with hypertaste can be very picky eaters. If something tastes too strongly, or tastes bad to them, it's unlikely they'll be willing to eat it, or even touch it again. Because of the often overly strong tasting foods they experience, people with hypertaste are often wary of tasting new foods. They may never 'grow out of' eating chicken nuggets, or other 'kid foods', which contain less flavor. Some people with hypertaste may spit out, feel nauseous, or even throw up because of the taste of certain foods.

Hypersmell: People with hypersmell are constantly bombarded with scents and odors other people are able to ignore, or not even notice. Things like body odor, pet odor, the smell of certain foods, the smell of certain people, the smell of plastic, fumes, chemicals, scented candles, air fresheners, scented soaps and shampoos, etc. Simply walking within ten feet of a nail salon may cause a person with hypersmell to feel sick, or nauseous. Car exhaust and other smells assault their senses day in and day out, and so people with hypersmell may choose to live out in the country, where the smells and odors of city life are far away. People with hypersmell may be 'neat freaks', showering several times a day and trying to keep everything as clean and odorless as possible.

Vestibular Hypersensitivity: People with vestibular hypersensitivity are hypersensitive to movement. People with this hypersensitivity often get car sick and motion sick, and in more extreme cases, simple movements such as turning, or walking at a normal pace can cause problems for them.

Propioceptive Hypersensitivity: People with propioceptive hypersensitivity can feel things most other people cannot. This is not the same as hypertactility, as hypertactality is skin-deep. Propioceptive hypersensitivity goes deeper then skin. The person is constantly aware of what most every single joint, and what every single muscle is doing. And as the human body is constantly moving, it can feel rather disturbing and uncomfortable for some people. Certain positions and movements can be uncomfortable and bothersome, as well as physical activities and yoga. They may sit, stand, or walk in odd, or unusual ways that may seem uncomfortable to most. But their way of sitting/standing/walking is the only way that feels comfortable and 'right' to them. Propioceptive hypersensitive people don't often fit under the 'clumsy' label.

HyposensitivityEdit

Hyposensitivity is essentially the exact oposite of hypersensitivity - hyposensitive individuals are under-sensitive to certain types of sensory information. But, sadly, issues with hyposensitivity are often ignored, or never even thought of. Hyposensitive people often go 'sensory seeking', where they try and seek out certain sensory inputs. Many people with hyposensitivity benefit from setting up a 'sensory diet' for themselves. Which includes items that are suited for their sensory needs. If you have hyposensitivity, you'll probably have to experiment for a while, before you find a sensory diet that suits your needs.

Hypohearing - A person with hypohearing may not be able to hear things as easily, and filter out noises. Their hearing isn't damaged, but if someone suspects they have hypohearing, they should get their hearing checked just in case. People with hypohearing will seek out sounds. They are likely to love being surrounded by people chatting, they’ll love loud or continuous sounds like loud music, vacuum cleaners, drilling or sirens, and will often do things to make loud sounds. Children may bang objects or toys together, or yell/scream/screech very loudly. A person with hypohearing may not understanding what you’re saying to them and will likely need you to repeat your instructions several times before the person understands.

Hypotactality - Hypotactility means that a child’s sense of touch is diminished and they will not be able to feel light touches or even pain and temperature extremes. A person with hypotactility may look for opportunities to experience “touch” by banging their head against the wall, biting themselves, playing roughly with other children or toys, hugging tightly and wearing tight and/or heavy clothes. They may also love having lots of blankets on their bed, to give them a feeling of weight, and also love chewing or sucking on things. Parents and carers will need to be aware that such a child may hurt themselves, even breaking a bone, without feeling it.

Hypovision - This is when a child’s vision can be affected to such an extent that they can only see outlines of objects. Symptoms and behaviour of this type of sensory problem include a child repeatedly moving their hands over objects, exploring everything in an unfamiliar place by touching it, repeatedly moving their hands and toys in front of their eyes, a love for bright lights, sunlight, bright colors and reflections, and an inability or difficulty to control their eye movements and to track moving objects.

Hypotaste - Hypotaste can mean that a child is always on the look-out for new things to put in their mouths and taste. Everything, no matter what is is, will be put in their mouths and they may suffer with excessive drooling and go round with their mouth open. They may also regurgitate food and whatever else they have eaten. People with hypotaste often like very strong tasting foods, like hot peppers.

Hyposmell - A child with this sensory problem will be drawn to smelly places, like the kitchen when you’re cooking or baking, and will constantly smell things - toys, grass, soil, plants, shoes, laundry…anything! They will love the smell of freshly laundered clothes and will love bathing with strong smelling soaps or shower gels. Their need to smell something may make them distracted.

Vestibular Hyposensitivity - This is when a child can swing round and round, and rock themselves vigorously without feeling nauseous or dizzy. They will enjoy doing these types of movements.

Proprioceptive hyposensitivity - This is quite a serious hyposensitivity problem because it means that a child has no awareness of where their body is in time and space, and so can fall over, bump into people, drop things and be “floppy” and not be able to support themselves or hold onto things. A child with this probem may also not register hunger.

See alsoEdit

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