Problems with Sensory Overload

Question

My children (3 teens---2 still at home--plus a 3-yr-old) all have Asperger's. They have the disability as well as dealing with others (including one parent) who also have Asperger's. As a result, people are oversensitive to sensory input and comments and, of course, go from 0 to 100 in seconds. I have a great deal of difficulty heading off the mood escalations and defusing the situation once it has started. I need any suggestions for quicker resolution, etc. that will help us function more effectively.

Answer

Children with sensory issues can be taught to understand how they are “wired” and adjust to the blended flood of incoming sensory messages that is their norm. Learning to understand their triggers will help them cope. For some, the labels on their shirts or itchy socks may overwhelm their senses and shut down their ability to listen to parents. Becoming aware of the irritation will enable them to remove the cause, and then better process auditory messages.

Providing a less stimulating environment is the key to helping these children. Many Aspergers (high-functioning autistic) children outgrow their sensory-overload issues. By adolescence, many of the symptoms are better managed as the child learns coping skills. Helping the child identify his overwhelming sensations and providing quiet spaces can speed the process of understanding his own triggers and enable him to be more functional and better adjusted.

Sensory overload is when Aspergers youngsters are faced with so much sensory stimuli that they can't process it all, and they then find a way of dealing with that situation that - to them - seems out of control. For example, if you have your Aspie at the mall and people are coming up to tell you how cute he is and there is background music playing, then you may have a youngster that begins to throw a tantrum – and to you it may seem like there was absolutely no reason for it. But for an Aspergers child, such a situation is more than he can take. It is too much information for him to try to process, and he breaks down.

As Aspergers kids with sensory issues get older, they will outgrow some of these problems on their own. Other kids will require the help of Occupational Therapists, and still others will have sensory problems with them for a life time.

The cause of Sensory Integration Dysfunction (the formal term for sensory problems) is not yet known. Kids who have other disabilities - and kids who were born extremely premature - are more likely to have Sensory Integration Dysfunction, but it is also known to be a condition that some otherwise healthy kids have.

Because of the mystery that surrounds this condition (and the limited information), most people aren't accepting or understanding of children who have this problem. Therefore, if you find that your youngster has this condition, you should find a great therapist and have them give you information to share with your youngster's school and other family members so that they are better prepared to help him or her.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums

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