Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Aspergers Children and Sensory Issues

Children with Aspergers may have problems processing information from one or more of the following seven sensory systems:

1. auditory (hearing)
2. gustatory (taste)
3. olfactory (smell)
4. proprioception (movement)
5. tactile (touch)
6. vestibular (balance)
7. visual (sight)

These processes take place at an unconscious level, and they work together to help attention and learning. Each system has specific receptors that pick up information that is relayed to the brain. The sensory characteristics of children with Aspergers can be responsible for many of their negative behaviors and unpleasant emotions. Reactions to sensory stimuli for typically developing children often become stress responses for those with Aspergers.

Sensory System Impact on Children with Aspergers—

1. Auditory System – Hearing: While they have intact hearing abilities, kids with Aspergers may not efficiently or accurately interpret auditory information. They may be hyper- and/or hyposensitive to noise, responding negatively to loud or small noises and failing to respond when their name is called.

2. Gustatory and Olfactory Systems – Taste and Smell: Issues related to the taste system manifest themselves in avoiding certain foods, eating a very circumscribed diet, and/or being very picky about foods. Closely related to the sense of taste, the olfactory system in the nose is most often characterized by a hypersensitivity to many of the smells that others enjoy or fail to notice.

3. Proprioception System – Movement: The proprioceptive system makes carrying multiple objects (e.g., backpack, books, and musical instruments) down a packed hallway possible by providing information about the location and movement of a body part. For some, these movements do not come naturally. Problems in the proprioception system can result in poor posture, a lack of coordination, and chronic fatigue accompanying physical activity. Some children do not receive accurate information from their bodies about how hard or soft they are hitting or pushing something. This can result in their using too little or too much force when tagging a peer or kicking a ball.

4. Tactile System – Touch: The tactile system provides information about objects in the environment. Tactile defensiveness may involve physical discomfort when coming into contact with someone or something that others might not register. Standing in line, taking a bath, unexpected touch, touch that is either too light or too heavy, and using a glue stick present potentially stressful situations for tactilely defensive individuals. In contrast, children who are hyposensitive fail to respond to the touch of others, yet often use touch to explore the environment for the tactile input they crave.

5. Vestibular System – Balance: The vestibular system is stimulated by movement and changes in head position. Children with vestibular hypersensitivity have low tolerance for movement and exhibit difficulties with changing speed and direction. They may experience nausea from spinning and have difficulty sitting still; others may display gravitational insecurity. Some may seek out vestibular input by crashing into things or rocking, might be considered clumsy, or have difficulty “switching gears.”

6. Visual System – Sight: Compared to other sensory areas, the visual system appears to be a relative strength for children with Aspergers. The problems that do arise are often related to hypersensitivities to light, poor hand-eye coordination/depth perception, and hypo-sensitivities that make finding an object “in plain sight” very difficult. Some children may have perfect 20/20 vision yet have difficulties with visual tracking and convergence. These problems can be detected by an exam with a behavioral ophthalmologist or optometrist.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Karen Gomez Vega i have most of these issues with my not yet diagnosed aspie-6 years old. he has sensory processing disorder, auditory processing disorder, PDD and ADHD...but the school, me and the behavioral therapist all are working to get that RX removed. this article is like writing about my child.
April 15 at 1:40pm · Like
Debra Bennett Mattison This is a great and very informative article. Teachers at school should have this as a "checklist" for dealing with children in their classrooms. I may even give it to my son's teachers. He has issues with several of the 7 listed.
April 15 at 2:38pm · Like
A Little Bloomer LB has "the best nose" as she says. Loud noises are disturbing such as a toilet flushing. As she gets older she can express what bothers her more and we can address it before a meltdown occurs.
April 15 at 5:21pm · Like

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

Click here to read the full article…

Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

Click here to read the full article...

Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

Click here to read the full article...

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content