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Autism and the Sensory System: Part 8 of 8

Autism and the Sensory System
Part Eight: The Role of Interoception: The Eighth Sensory System
With Kelly Mahler, MS, OTR/L

 Interoception is the sense that allows us to feel sensations from the inside of our body like a growling stomach, or full bladder or tight muscles (Craig, 2002). These internal sensations can serve as important clues to our emotions (Craig, 2002; Critchley et al., 2004; Herbert, Herbert, & Pollatos, 2011; Herbert, Pollatos, & Schandry, 2007; Pollatos, Gramann, & Schandry, 2007; Pollatos et al., 2005).  For example, noticing a growling stomach is a clue that we are hungry, or noticing a full bladder is a clue that we have to go to the bathroom, or noticing tight muscles is a clue that we are frustrated. This body-emotion connection provides valuable information about the world around us and within us, information about the way our body is responding to the situation at hand. For example, noticing tight muscles and recognizing it as a clue of frustration provides us with valuable information about our current situation, our body serving as an alert that something might be off around us. This body-emotion connection urges us into action, to seek out a solution that will help us regain a comfortable feeling body and emotion (e.g. seek help; request that an unmet need is fulfilled; take a quite break)  (Jackson, Parkinson, Kim, Schüermann, & Eickhoff, 2011).

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Autism and the Sensory System: Part 7 of 8

Autism and the Sensory System
Part Seven: Critical Mass Development

As I worked on another year’s worth of daily hidden curriculum items, much to my delight, I discovered that it appeared that all the individual hidden curriculum items on a given topic had come together on their own! Brenda Smith Myles refers to this as having enough similar experience to enable critical mass development (personal communication, 2010). She has since written a book about this topic called Excelling With Autism: Obtaining Critical Mass Through Deliberate Practice(Myles, Aspy, Mataya & Schaffer, 2018), which is pretty much a mirror image to my personal experience.

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Autism and the Sensory System: Part 5 of 8

Autism and the Sensory System
Part Five: Storing and Retrieving Information

For me, every bit of incoming information was stored separately as I grew up. It was also stored in a sensory fashion. Just like typical people do not consciously decide how their brain would store information, neither do autistic people. Even so, it is important to consider because it impacts all of life.

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