Sensory Systems & Autism

Internet Resources

We believe that the single most important trait of the fra(x) syndrome is a difficulty in modulating arousal, and that this inability to normally modulate arousal is directly responsible for many of the distinctive behaviors found in fra(x].
Vicki Sudhalter, Richard Belser
Perception difficulties are common in autism even though their presence is not part of the diagnostic criteria for the disorder. This paper reviews six experiments in auditory perception done with autistic children and adults. Problems arising from both cortical and sub-cortical brain structures are pointed to. Enhanced abilities as well as defects in audition are discussed.
Autism Diva
What other children perceive as normal noise can be intensely intense and painful, eroding their ability to communicate and learn... The wide range of noises affecting autistic and gifted children include general classroom noise, school bells, machine noise from fans, vaccum cleaners and lawn mowing – and unexpected noises such as dogs barking and road works.
Much of the input coming to these children appears to create antagonism between input, with the child's ultimate interpretation being determined by the interplay between the various dysfunctional sensory channels.
Robert J. Doman, Jr.
While parents and experts agree that many of our children with Autism-related conditions show unusual behavior, there are various interpretations as to why. Some will call these behaviors "maladaptive" and will aim to eliminate them through behavior training. Some believe that the child is seeking attention, and will ignore them. Professionals using a sensory processing/integration approach, however, interpret the behaviors as a language which children use to communicate their wants and needs to those around them. If we can learn this language, we can start building new ways of communicating with our children.
Kersten Potter
It's not just abstractions that I perceive differently. For instance, I am well aware now that I perceive music, and respond to it mentally and emotionally, very differently than most people do. I can experience epiphanies while listening to certain kinds of music, or even, sometimes, while replaying music in my memory (I have a musical track going in my head most of the time). But I also find some other kinds of music--unfortunately much of it quite popular--very agitating or annoying in a way that most people don't. There are smells and tastes that I perceive differently than other people, too. I sometimes smell things that other people don't smell, or perceive strong emotions as odors. And I like to eat raw garlic...
Ian Johnson
Though autistic people live in the same physical world and deal with the same raw material‚, their perceptual world turns out to be strikingly different from that of non-autistic people.
Olga Bogdashina
Relative to control subjects, Asperger's syndrome subjects were not impaired at odor detection but were significantly impaired at olfactory identification
Yusuke Suzuki et al
Autism is NOT just a bundle of symptoms. It's a way of being that is different for each person who is autistic. The key to developing us into the best person we can be is to tease out our abilities, not snuff out the behaviors caused by our inabilities.
Patricia Clark
Two of the subjects covered in this chapter are the frustration of not being able to speak and sensory problems. My senses were oversensitive to loud noise and touch. Loud noise hurt my ears and I withdrew from touch to avoid over-whelming sensation.
Temple Grandin
Teachers, therapists and other professionals who work with autistic people need to recognize and treat sensory processing problems in autism. Treatment programs that are appropriate and beneficial for one type of autism may be painful for other types.
Temple Grandin
We tend to think of the senses as being either on or off, like a TV set. But sometimes the TV set is turned on, and all you get is snowy reception.
Melissa Hendricks
Despite the fact that many people with autism have tried to communicate their views and insights, these attempts have mostly passed without much professional notice.
Olga Bogdashina
The first module reviews the literature describing sensory and motor problems in Asperger's Syndrome. The second module discusses the assessment of these problems, and the third discusses intervention including environmental modification and the use of sensory integration techniques.
There is a hierarchy in the functional priority of sensory systems in early development. This hierarchy has important implications for the processing of multisensory information in early development and for the way young infants learn about their world.
David Lewkowicz
The most common sensory problems autistic people experience are their hyper- or hyposensitivities to sensory stimuli. Their senses seem to be too acute (in the case of hypersensitivity) or not working at all (in the case of hyposensitivity).
Olga Bogdashina
Sensory impairment is often regarded from a medical/disability point of view and its effects on mental health can be poorly recognised.
Margaret du Feu, Kenneth Fergusson
Many people with AS are 'sensory impaired' which means that they cannot use all their senses at the same time: too much stimulation from a multiple of senses will result in 'overload' and the inability to take in further stimuli.
Living in this world is in itself a highly stressful, sensory-loading kind of thing for my kind. Things that you do not notice can cause huge problems for us.
Frank Klein
Katrin, 22 years old, lives every day on sensory overload. She even hears the buzzing in fluorescent lights and sees them flicker every 30 seconds. (I didn't know they flickered.) Despite her condition, Katrin is quite functional, and smart too, as I discovered when I interviewed her at her home in Foxboro, Massachusetts, for a piece that airs tonight. Katrin graduated 6th in her high school class, runs her own business, and gets around town as long as James, her dog, is with her every step of the way. She says James calms her.
Anderson Cooper, CNN
A delineation of the significant stages of child brain development through which children pass as they progress from birth to six years.
Glen Doman
Imagine what happens when just one or all of your senses are intensified or are not present at all, often referred to as sensory integration dysfunction. This is the case for many individuals on the autistic spectrum.
The present study was undertaken in order to determine whether a set of clinical features, which are not included in the DSM-IV or ICD-10 for Asperger Syndrome (AS), are associated with AS in particular or whether they are merely a familial trait that is not related to the diagnosis... An aberrant processing of sensory information appears to be a common feature in AS. The impact of these and other clinical features that are not incorporated in the ICD-10 and DSM-IV on our understanding of AS may hitherto have been underestimated. These associated clinical traits may well be reflected by the behavioural characteristics of these individuals.
Taina Nieminen-von Wendt et al
I see the world differently than most people. Part of that is due to a different way of thinking about the world, but part of it is the result of sensory processing difficulties. My hearing, sight, and (I suspect) other senses function normally, but my brain sometimes processes them in unusual ways. Almost all autistics have some sort of sensory processing difficulty. Many researchers suspect that these sensory processing difficulties are often the cause of some of the more detrimental autistic behaviors, such as self-abuse and tantrums. Seeing the world in a confusing way can be very disorienting and frightening to someone who already has a lot of anxiety.
Joel Smith
Turn on the radio, but do not tune it. Leave it on static and fuzz. Turn it up. Ask someone to turn the lights on and off. Strap yourself into a broken chair that is missing a leg and use a table that is off-balance... Now, with all this in place, pick up a new book and try to learn something new!
Bonnie Blagojevic, Martie Kendrick, Jennifer Maeverde

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