Helping families dealing with autism spectrum disorders
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Independence and Sensory Problems

Posted by Patricia Harkins in Uncategorized

With Independence Day, I am reminded of how limiting sensory issues can be for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Many of our kids cannot tolerate heat.  A day at a park can be torture for them.  If your child is like this, liik for slushies or icees – consuming ice is the fastest way to cool down other than immersion in cold water (swimming).  Noise is another issue.  It is worth trying multiple ear plugs, noise reducing headphones, or hearing protectors to find one your child will tolerate.  We used hearing protectors to get our son back into church, restaurants, and even a professional basketball game (louder than a jet engine, I think).  SOme kids can’t tolerate long sleeves or pants, making heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration a big concern.  For some, light is a problem.  FInding shade and finding sunglasses they will tolerate can make a difference.  Food is always an issue – make sure you carry foods you know your child will eat.  Don’t be obvious about it when you walk into a restaurant.  Bring them out after you order, or just small amounts at a time.

Your child’s sensory processing problems can improve.  Left alone, it is slow improvement.  With good sensory based occupational therapy, they can improve much faster.  I consider OT just as important as speech therapy.  Not meeting your child’s sensory needs increases his anxiety and interferes with living a full life.  Sensory problems keep him from learning from life experiences other children have naturally.  They increase his difficulty making social connections and friends.  Just as fixing sleep fixes a lot, accommodating and treating sensory problems fixes a lot.  It is key to developing the independent life we want for each of our children.

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