Many individuals with ASD have difficulties processing sensory information. Some or all of the child’s senses may be affected by this. Each child with ASD will have a unique sensory profile.
Sensory Processing Difficulties
- Sensory systems: There are seven sensory systems and a child may be over or under reactive in one or more of these systems. Sometimes these are called sensitivities. The sensory systems are hearing, vision, touch, taste, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (body awareness).
- Sensory sensitivities: A child may be over-reactive in one sensory area and under-reactive in another. Over-reactive children are hyper-sensitive and may avoid some sensory input. Underreactive children hypo-sensitive to sensory input and may seek out sensory input.
- Sensory Profile: The child’s sensory profile is based on an ongoing pattern of behaviour and consistent responses to specific sensory input. Each child’s sensory profile is unique. Some children have many sensory sensitivities, other children have few or none.
- Sensory Diet: Providing appropriate opportunities for the sensory input the child is seeking while offering accommodations and adaptations for the sensory input the child is avoiding.
Sensory Diet Tips
- Provide additional movement breaks throughout the day. These can be made purposeful by having the child take a message to another room or help carry items from one area to another.
- Sitting at circle or on the floor can be very difficult for some children with ASD. Provide a small chair or beanbag chair or allow the child to sit near and lean against a wall or cupboard.
- Some children can pay better attention when they have a “fidget toy”. Playing with the toy helps them stay focused and on task.
- Effective fidget toys are small, quiet and do not distract the other children. Examples include squeezable foam balls or figures, Koosh balls, Silly Putty, Tangle rings, etc.
- Some children have difficulty with noise especially during play time or group activities. Allow the child to sit on the edge of the group where the noise is lessened or provide earphones or ear plugs.
- There are many other tips and tricks. Consult an Occupational Therapist for support.
Geneva Centre for Autism
112 Merton Street, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2Z8
Tel: (416) 322-7877 – Toll Free: 1-866-Geneva-9 – Fax: (416) 322-5894