Autism,  Family,  mommyblog

Sensory Processing and Autism

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This weeks autism awareness post, is all about over sensory or under sensory.

Many kids who are on the spectrum have sensory problems, that require therapeutic activities inside and outside the home. The problem is, it can be overwhelming as the parent to figure out really what the sensory issue is. Are they having problems with being overly stimulated, or under. Unless you have outside advocates and help, it’s really hard to figure it out. It’s especially important to be aware of these issues, as holidays such as Fourth of July approach. You want to be able to assist your child and be there for them, and help them enjoy these celebrated holidays.

So what’s the first step? Well first you need to figure out what the root of the problem is. Are they over or under stimulated. The best way to do this, would be to have a sensory diagnosis through a therapist such as a play therapist, or a sensory OT (occupational therapist). However if you aren’t able to do that, here are some guidelines to help you determine where your child is.

Over Stimulation

A child who is overstimulated by the senses, will exhibit some or all of these behaviors.

  • Immature language
  • Emotional outbursts, often aggressive
  • Shy away from group activities or crowded places
  • Tired easily from exertion
  • In ability to focus in class room, often out of seat
  • Often picky eaters, refusing to eat anything but certain kinds of food
  • May often seem clumsy compared to others
  • Avoids touch from others and also certain textures.
  • Does not like clothes to be too tight
  • Is often fearful and does not like to take risks
  • Often feels self conscious
  • Tends to be a loner and does not have many friends
  • Does not like surprises

Under Stimulation

Children who are under stimulated by the senses, will exhibit much of the above, with the addition of a few key characteristics.

  • Constantly chewing on things such as furniture, themselves, books etc
  • Enjoys being held or swaddled
  • Enjoys motion from swinging, rocking, jumping etc
  • Does not like light touch, prefers a more rough touch
  • Will often hit themselves or whatever is in there reach, to gain that sensation
  • May not feel things that would cause others pain, such as bee sting or hot water.
  • Is not bothered by loud noises
  • Will often have emotional outbursts, that include hitting others or themselves
  • Seeks out risks
  • Is unaware of danger
  • Often likes rough textures.

When a child has a sensory processing disorder, they take in the world around them in a different way. When they act out, they aren’t being bad kids, they are just expressing themselves in the only way they know how. As parents, it can be overwhelming, emotional, and frustrating trying to figure out what their trigger is. It can be especially nerve wracking on holidays such as the Fourth of July, where there is so much noise and lights. The best thing you can do for your child is to meet them in their world and find out what their sensory issues consist of. Ideally taking them to see a sensory OT, is the best thing you can do, and they will help teach you ways to help your child cope with their sensory problems. However, the wait list for OT can often times be long. Here are a few ways to help your child cope with sensory problems at home and on the go.

Ways to help your child cope with sensory problems. 

  • A weighted blanket can give them the sensation of being squeezed, and can help calm them down.
  • Noise canceling headphones can help tone down the added noises of the world.
  • sunglasses will help dim out light.
  • When out to see fireworks, sit in a location that is not surrounded by people.
  • Practice yoga breaths or bubble breaths to help the child regain their emotions.
  • Carry textured balls with you, that the child can fidget with and play with.
  • look into carrying a finger nail cleaner brush, that the child can brush their arms and legs with when over stimulated.
  • Read The Out of Sync Child. It’s a great book and tool for learning how to cope with parenting a child with sensory problems.
  • Check out these two links about “Brushing” and “Deep compressions”, both are tools that they use in sensory OT, and are things you can use at home or on the go. https://harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/deep-pressure-therapy  https://www.nationalautismresources.com/the-wilbarger-protocol-brushing-therapy-for-sensory-integration/

The first step is to get your child evaluated to help narrow down what touches they like, and what they don’t like. Then you will be able to better assist them. Look into programs that allow you to try out equipment before you purchase them. Reach out in the community and find other families like yours. Having a support group for both you and your child is important. Then, remember to just breath and take it one day at a time.

You WILL get through this!

Love always, from the Hotmess Mom.

Great tools to use for children with sensory problems

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22 Comments

  • GiGi Eats

    My husband has a mild form of Autism, but luckily he is high functioning so we don’t have to experience these symptoms/issues too too often. He’s also VERY open about it all.

  • Em

    These are helpful ways to help a child to cope their sensory problems. My husband is a child psychologist and I heard some stuff about this kind of topic.

  • Joline

    I think it’s really important for parents to be informed with information like this. So helpful! That way they can help their children better.

  • Stephanie

    It’s always interesting to see these lists. I think we all have tendencies for a few of the typical signs. A few things I mentally said “yep, that’s me” or one of my sons. And a lot of those suggestions help us, even not being on the spectrum.

  • Tonya Michelle

    I learned a lot from this post. I had no idea about the characteristics of sensory processing disorder. My cousin has Autism. This helps me understand him better.

  • Blue DeBell

    I think this is an amazing post, it can be so hard to find good information on these things. Nice share!

  • Indya | The Small Adventurer

    Autism is very common in my family, but I find that I am still learning more and more about it everyday. For example, I had no idea what children with autism like to be squeezed/feel pressure. I know that many of them don’t like to be touched most of the time, so it’s interesting that sometimes the thing that upsets them is the thing that can make them feel better at another time. It’s great that you dedicate so much of your time to bettering your understanding of your children!

  • Vu Ha

    Sensory disorders are a common symptom in children. I have seen a child who does not like light and never cuts his hair. But his parents recognized him and made him more exposed to everyone, so the symptoms improved.

  • Lois Alter Mark

    This is such good information for everyone. I think people are more compassionate when they’re educated about others who may be different from them – especially when they realize they’re not so different after all.

  • Cristina

    I knew some details about sensory processing disorder, but since I don’t know any kid that suffers from it, I didn’t dig deeper.

    Thank you for spreading awareness and helping othes!

  • David Elliott

    I know people with autism deal with sensory issues. But I had no clue it was both over and under processing. This is such a valuable resource for parents who are going through this.

  • Sarah

    I appreciate this so much. I worked in the preschool feild for 7 years. So many times kids with spd were labeled as the bad kid. More by parents then staff it hurt my heart so much. I do wish more people would be open to understanding..

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