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Aspergers and Sensory Difficulties

Many kids with autism and Aspergers have unusual reactions to sensory experiences (i.e., experiences related to the senses of touch, hearing, vision, smell, and taste). About 40 per cent of kids with autism have some abnormality of sensory sensitivity. There is now evidence to suggest that the incidence may be the same for Aspergers. The senses of touch and hearing are most commonly affected; certain kinds of touch, especially light pressure, and certain sounds may be experienced as intolerable. This difficulty is known as sensory defensiveness. Interestingly, while kids with autism and Aspergers are usually hypersensitive to sensory input, at other times they may be under-reactive, particularly to pain and changes in temperature. It is not uncommon for over-reactivity and under-reactivity to co-exist in the same individual. The following examples illustrate these points.

One child became so agitated by the sound of the vacuum (over-reactive) that every time the house cleaners arrived, he attempted to push them out the door. Some kids react to sounds others do not even perceive to be present (over-reactive); a common example of this is fluorescent lights which many individuals with Aspergers find extremely disturbing. Kids have been known to sleep between the mattress and the box-spring (under-reactive), apparently craving the sensory input.

A number of adults with autism or Aspergers who speak and write about the nature of their own experience stress the overwhelming importance of sensory issues to their functioning. Temple Grandin, arguably the most famous person with autism in the world, holds a doctorate in animal studies and teaches at Colorado State University. She has developed a "squeeze machine", a kind of holding device that allows her to control the amount of pressure exerted on her body. She talks about the calming effect this device has on her when she feels stressed.

Similarly, many kids with autism spectrum disorder crave swinging, apparently finding it soothing and organizing to their nervous systems.

Certain clinicians, for example, Stanley Greenspan, M.D., consider sensory difficulties of overriding importance in developmental disorders and believe a number of the symptoms occur in response to the underlying sensory issues. For example, it is no wonder a young kid withdraws if he is overwhelmed by the touch of his parents or if he finds loud noises unbearable.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

My daughter is 9 years old and reading all of this is amazing and truly my daughter. We adopted her at 2 mons. Other kids bothered her, she sleeps with an ice pack every night. Brushing her hair is difficult cause it hurts, she thinks we are yelling at her while she is the one yelling. Her tantrums are out of this world. She screams and you think something so awful has happened to her. She is very smart and really no one sees it but us. Her teachers are so amazed because she is an straight A student. She doesn't seem to care about anything and doesn't react to sympathy toward another person. I am so happy I found this site. She is on Resperidol for aggression, Clonidine for sleep, Vyvanse for focus which is so amazing. Her biological mom did meth right up to delivery. Does this have anything to do with her aspies? I have to keep reading cause I am learning so much. She is a blessing and we love her so much but this is so aggravating as parents.

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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.

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Parenting Defiant Teens on the Spectrum

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

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD 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."

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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.

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to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

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