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Sensory Processing Disorders and how it affects children with ASD

Updated: May 8, 2023

Sensory integration, also known as sensory processing, is the brain's ability to receive, interpret and respond to sensory information from the environment. This process allows us to make sense of the world around us by organizing and integrating information from all our senses, such as touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing.
The process of sensory integration involves the brain's ability to filter and prioritize sensory information, so that we can focus on the most important information and ignore irrelevant information. For example, when we are in a noisy environment, our brain filters out some of the background noise so that we can focus on a conversation.

When a person's sensory integration is impaired, they may have difficulty processing sensory information, which can result in challenges with attention, behavior, and learning. This is commonly seen in individuals with sensory processing disorders, which can be diagnosed by a qualified occupational therapist or other healthcare professional.
Occupational therapy is often used to address difficulties with sensory integration and to help individuals improve their ability to process and respond to sensory information in a more functional way.
Sensory processing issues are commonly associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Individuals with ASD may experience sensory processing difficulties, which means they have difficulties processing and integrating sensory information from their environment.

Sensory processing issues can manifest in a variety of ways, including:

Over-sensitivity: Individuals with autism may be over-sensitive to certain sensory stimuli, such as loud noises, bright lights, or certain textures. They may experience sensory overload or become overwhelmed by these stimuli.
Under-sensitivity: Individuals with autism may also be under-sensitive to certain sensory stimuli, meaning they may not notice certain sensations, such as pain or temperature changes.

Sensory-seeking: Some individuals with autism may actively seek out certain sensory input, such as spinning, rocking, or other repetitive behaviors. This can be a way to self-regulate or to get the sensory input they need to feel comfortable.

Sensory discrimination difficulties: Some individuals with autism may have difficulty discriminating between different sensory stimuli, such as different textures or temperatures.

These sensory processing issues can impact an individual's ability to engage in daily activities, such as going to school or participating in social events. However, there are a variety of interventions and strategies that can be used to help individuals with autism manage their sensory processing issues, including sensory integration therapy, environmental modifications, and the use of sensory tools and equipment.

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