How can I cope with my son with Aspergers’ sensory problems?

Question

How can I cope with my son with Aspergers’ sensory problems?

Answer

Having a child with sensory integration issues can be a challenge for a parent. Sensory integration dysfunction is a neurological disorder where a person has difficulty processing sensory information. This difficulty can be on one of the five senses – hearing, sight, smell, touch, or taste – or in a combination of senses. Sensory integration dysfunction (SID) can include hypersensitivity as well as a hyposensitivity.

Kids with SID have a difficult time navigating the world. Many kids have a hypersensitivity to sounds. The vacuum cleaner will be too loud, or the hair dryer. Socks won’t feel right or they won’t wear shirts unless you cut the tags out. Many kids with SID will only eat certain foods.

If you have a child who you feel has SID issues, the first step in coping with them is to get a proper diagnosis. The diagnosis can help you understand the depth and breadth of the issues. Consult your physician about treatment for the issues.

When you are coping with sensory issues at home, you’ll need to be patient and understanding of your child’s needs. It’s important to remember that your child is truly affected by sounds and smells and tastes that may seem perfectly normal to you. Learn to understand what situations cause a problem for your child. It is advisable to try to avoid those situations with your child, and if you do have to encounter them, work with your therapist to teach your child how to better cope with the situation.

Often, a child with SID, especially when he is very young, will react badly in a situation by doing something such as throwing a tantrum. When this happens, you’ll need to try to figure out what triggered the reaction. You’ll need to trace back the steps and try to discover the sound or the smell or the taste that set your child off.

Often, kids with sensory issues have trouble adapting to school. The classrooms can be too loud or the cafeteria smells can be overpowering. Sometimes it can be the proximity of the other kids that will upset a SID child. Work with your occupational therapist to come up with behavioral techniques to help teach your child how to better deal with these situations. Your occupational therapist will likely put your child on a sensory diet that will incorporate movement, sound and smells. In a safe environment, your child will be exposed to different sensory experiences.

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