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Blog and Podcasts about Autism


sensoryIf you could be a Super Hero, what powers would you choose to have?
X-ray vision, to look through things and be nosey? Or may a truth beam, to make politicians actually tell us the truth, rather than skirting around issues? Perhaps the power to be invisible wherever and whenever you wanted, would be a better choice? I wouldn’t mind that one, that’s for sure. Me well, I think I would choose flying. The idea of being able to not walk everywhere, see amazing sights and perhaps get to where I needed to go faster without all the traffic jams, would be a good little bonus. Being able to choose a power would be fantastic, I reckon.

The thing is, I have what some might consider a couple of super powers, but I didn’t actually choose them. Super powers or curses, these traits can be a bit of both. In part due to my Autism, I have very acute senses and others sense are extremely poor. These increases and deficits in senses are usually referred to as having Sensory Processing Difficulties/Disorder (SPD).

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Processing Difficulties and in American they can be referred to as Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) can affect any of the general 5 sense: Vision, Olfactory(smell) , Auditory(hearing), Tactile/Touch, Oral/Taste. It also affects two other senses that perhaps you may not have heard of:

1) Proprioception which is the sense of body’s position in the world around us, which causes difficulties in understanding where the body is in relations to other objects or the person’s surroundings. It often is displayed as the person appearing to be clumsy and bumping into things and also misjudging the weight of an object which can affect how hard or light to hold or throw objects. For example when you walk through a door to enter a room, you instinctively know where the door handle is so as to not hit it, or if throwing a towel to someone you can gauge how hard or softly and the trajectory to throw the item, however if your proprioception is hampered these takes are difficult and you may run into the door handle (which I do often) or throw items too softly or too hard and miss the target.

2) Vestibular which is the sense of movement. This can often result in children/adults either having a fear of dislike of moving around such as on play equipment or dislike of heights or the opposite which they will seek movements out and enjoy things such a spinning, climbing fast movements.

Children and adults who seek out the senses are often called sensory seekers and those who do not like them are often called sensory avoiders. A child or an adult can be one or the other but a lot people I have found are usually a combination of the two.

Our lives are spent avoiding certain situation or ensuring we are doing those things that make us feel good or comfortable. These issues often have quite a profound effect on our lives as it often makes “simple” everyday tasks extremely difficult to complete, affects our anxieties and can be a requirement in order to feel comfortable to get on with daily activities. Learning more and taking note of what things affect your child or loved one will help you to put in place good strategies to deal with any meltdowns or shutdowns that these sensory issues may cause to those you love.

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