Understanding Sensory Issues

The Learning Support Centre provide support to a number of students with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterised, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviours. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger’s syndrome.

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, maths and art. (https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism)

Characteristics of these conditions surround the ways people experience processing sensory information. We process information in the following ways: visually, auditory, gustatory, olfactory plus proprioception, tactile and vestibular.

Sensory Issue Disorder (SID) is a difficulty in responding to sensory information (this happens to everyone) but it is problematic with it has an effect on daily life. There are sensory avoiders and sensory seekers (plus people who are a combination of both aspects) which means they may require it or try their best to avoid it. Most of the time people who have sensory difficulties do not realise that what they experience is any different from anyone else which is important to keep in mind.

Suggested ways to support a person with sensory issues is to make SENSE out of the situation

S – stop, assess the situation, do not assume it is behaviour

E –environmental change

N– note the child’s response to the environment change

S– sensory strategies and tools

E– embrace the positive and learn from the moment

(Your Essential Guide to Understanding Sensory Processing Disorder – Angie Voss)

Other ways is to encourage deep breathing and instigate movement, these help because they aid concentration.