It is a well known fact that individuals with Autism sometimes experience exaggerated responses to stimuli or have sensory integration issues. This is because, their bodies face a difficulty in regulating and responding to the sensations from their own bodies, as well as from the environment. In order for you to completely grasp the sensory issues your child experiences, it is imperative for you to equip yourself with all the information there is to gather about the different senses and the issues associated with them.
Let’s talk Sense
The tactile system consists of all the nerves under the skin’s surface that transfer information of touch, pain, temperature & pressure to the brain. It’s the body’s first defence mechanism, and helps in perceiving the environment and manifesting protective reactions for survival.
The vestibule is the structure within the inner ear (the semicircular canal) which is responsible for detecting movement and equilibrium. For example, the vestibular system indicates to your brain whether your head is tilted or is upright, even when your eyes are closed.
Proprioception refers to a subconscious awareness of the body’s posture. It provides the body with necessary signals that allow us to sit and hold our position in a chair or to step off a platform without losing our balance. Proprioception enables the manipulation of objects through fine motor movements, eating with a spoon, or holding a pen, buttoning one’s shirt, etc.
The sense of sight or an effective visual processing, helps in identification and interpretation of the physical form of objects. It also plays a very important role in pattern recognition, navigation, and memory, thus, enabling learning and retention of information.
The process of developing oral and language skills rests entirely on the ability to hear. The Auditory system enables the imitation and modification of sounds, in order to develop one’s own language skills. It is the effective development of these oral language skills that provides the foundation for spelling and grammar, which contributes to the later development of written language as well.
Olfaction refers to the sense of smell, which enables one from distinguishing between various articles, or alert one in case of volatile or dangerous substances, such as stale food, poisonous gases, or even pleasant aromas that one can associate with people or places. The sense of smell has a strong connection to long-term memory.
The human tongue detects only four or five basic taste components-sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The olfactory senses play an vital role in enhancing the sense of taste.
So What’s Making Your Child So Sensitive?
Any dysfunction within the sensory system could manifest in either an under-response or an exaggerated response. This could reflect in the child’s activity level. They may either be in constant motion or may present as lethargic. This could also be seen as alternating between the two responses. You may also see a coordination or balance issue, or difficulty in gross & fine motor movement, with a delay in speech or language development. This could mean that your child may not seem to be coping with the academic curriculum. Your child may seen impulsive, have a poor attention span, and easily distracted. You may also notice exaggerated response to changes in routine, resulting in frustration, violent outbursts, self injurious behavior, or even withdrawal, etc.
SENSORY INTEGRATION DYSFUNCTION or SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER is a disorder in which sensory input is not integrated or organized appropriately in the brain and may produce varying degrees of problems in development, information processing, and behavior. Sensory Integration Dysfunction is to the brain what indigestion is to the digestive tract.
So Does Your Child Have Autism Or Sensory Processing Disorder?
It’s highly likely that your child with Autism has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). While they are in fact two separate conditions, SPD can coexist with Autism. While the link between autism and SPD, has not completely been understood, several studies have suggested that genetic components to both disorders and a strong family history of the same, could be important factors to note. It is possible that a genetic piece links processing delays and autism, but at this time there is no medical evidence of that.
The Solution is Sensory Integration!
SENSORY INTEGRATION is actually an innate neurobiological process which refers to the integration and interpretation of sensory stimulation from the environment by the brain. It’s a process which should ideally naturally occur in every individual. However, therapeutically, to stimulate an integration of these senses, your therapist will have to primarily focus on three basic senses- tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive. Dr. A. Jean Ayres was the pioneer in the general theory of sensory integration and its therapeutic application.
Treatment for Autism and SPD sometimes looks the same since parts of the therapy designed for a child with autism focuses on improving their sensory processing delays, which may result in an identical treatment plan for a child with sensory processing delays.
Where Can You Get More Information Regarding Sensory Integration?
You can find everything you need to know about Sensory Integration, right here.
Where Can You Find A Sensory Integration Practitioner Closest to You?
You can always go through our exhaustive database, to know about the Therapists who provide Sensory Integration, near you.