Many children on the autism spectrum have difficulties processing sensory information. They may be over or under-sensitive to stimuli at different times, and these sensory differences can affect their behavior and have lasting impacts on their development. Children with sensory issues can go through sensory overload, and too much information can cause anxiety, stress, and sometimes physical pain. Here are some tips to help your child cope with sensory sensitivities and avoid sensory overload.
To help your child cope with sensory sensitivities to light, you can change the environment by giving them sunglasses or a visor. You can also cut down on the amount of light by getting rid of fluorescent lighting or installing blackout curtains. If your child is under-sensitive to light, you can use bright, colorful visual aids like cue cards to help establish effective communication and a routine.
In addition to light, sound is one of the most common forms of sensory sensitivity. If your child is sensitive to loud sounds, give them earplugs or noise-canceling headphones and play soothing music to help calm them down. It is a good idea to talk to your child and prepare them before entering a noisy, crowded area. You can also close doors and windows to reduce external noise from bothering your child. If your child is under-sensitive to sound, try getting on their level and speaking slowly and clearly to help gain their attention.
If your child is sensitive to smell, it is recommended to use unscented soaps and shampoos and avoid wearing perfume to reduce the intensity of fragrances in the environment. Children who are under-sensitive to smell may fail to notice different smells, even powerful scents. To help with this, try using strong-smelling products to keep them from handling inappropriate strong-smelling items, like trash or waste.
For children with oral sensitivities who are also picky eaters, make sure to pack foods they will eat. Children feel more comfortable when they know that there is food that they like to eat. As long as your child eats a varied diet, a more restricted diet to accommodate their taste and food texture sensitivities would not necessarily be a problem. If they do not like the texture of certain foods, try pureeing them instead. When introducing your child to new foods, do it gradually over time by encouraging them to touch, lick, or smell the new food rather than asking them to eat it the first time they are introduced to it.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.