Sensory integration problems have become something of a defining feature for many people on the autism spectrum. However, these problems come in a wide range that include many distinct cases, from a child who can’t tolerate noise to a person who can’t sense the pain of staring too long at bright lights. They can also be people who dislike being kissed, have their faces washed, or gag on certain food textures.
On the bright side, this also means that experts are constantly working to improve therapies, strategies and programs aimed towards these sensory issues. Because by addressing these problems, it can go a long way to helping an autistic reconnect with the bigger society. Here are just three of the most well-known examples.
1. Specialised Games
While the effectiveness of brain training games are highly disputed, there are certainly many professionals who still recommend certain games to improve sensory integration.
Some of these may have very colorful pieces that then challenge players to identify and then use them to solve puzzles. Others can be physical activities meant to engage other senses like taste, touch and smell.
Take note though, having these games personalised and specialised for an individual is very important. Not every autistic has the same sensory issues. What may seem like a fun and stimulating activity to one may either be too much or ineffective for another.
2. Auditory Training
As mentioned in past posts, auditory processing is the ability of the brain to process information from sound. However, it should also be noted that those with autism are also among the groups prone to auditory processing disorder along with sound sensitivity.
Therefore, programs that are aimed specifically towards improving auditory processing can really help! One example could be a program that uses filtered music that increases in intensity at random intervals. This process then challenges the brain to be alert and, ultimately, reignite the pathways in the brain used in auditory processing.
And logically, improving a person’s ability to process sound and reduce sound sensitivity will have a positive impact on their ability to communicate. This, in turn, makes auditory training very helpful in getting autistics to connect with others.
3. Food Sensitivities
Lastly, keeping food sensitivities in mind has a tremendous impact on an autistic’s health. The problem with this issue is that parents initially assume that autism forces a child into a certain diet.
No such diet really exists. Rather, understanding an autistic’s food sensitivities means going beyond knowing what certain flavours or textures their taste buds are highly sensitive too. It also means being aware of sensitivities in the gut, the nose and other parts of the body that could still trigger stimulation. It should not also be confused with allergies.
Parents of autistics and their caregivers should always consult professionals regularly about their child’s specific sensitivities. Their guidance can be of tremendous help identifying exactly what kind of food triggers sensory overload, where it comes from and how it can be managed!
To summarise all these, helping autistics with their sensory issues is about maintaining a good balance between exercising their brain while also showing consideration for their hyper (or hypo) sensitivity. That way, it helps their growth while also reducing all the stress that comes from overstimulation.
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