Autism and the Sensory System: Part 1 of 8

Autism and the Sensory System
Part One: Introduction

The world we live in is set up in a neuromajority friendly manner. This means people with a typical sensory system and way of thinking can most often live and thrive in the world, but people who have autistic neurology often have a sensory system and style of thinking that is not the best match for living comfortably in the world. Additionally, autistic sensory system and thinking differences pose difficulties when it comes to reading the environment and comprehending written words along with tracking and understanding conversation.

Today we know that at least 90% of individuals with ASD have sensory abnormalities with sensory symptoms in multiple sensory domains (Baker, et. al., 2008; Leekam, et. al., 2007; Baranek, et. al., 2006). Many autistic people need to bring intentionality to keeping their sensory systems regulated.

“Sensory regulation involves actively adjusting amounts and kinds of incoming sensory information in a way that allows for optimal functioning because one’s neurology does not permit this to occur automatically” (Endow, 2011, pg 25).

During sensory regulation the system is balanced or regulated by providing either targeted sensory input or intentional sensory guarding from input that is aimed at providing the specific balance needed at that time to regulate the sensory system. It is hard work to keep the sensory system regulated, but is a requirement to access learning in a school environment, function optimally each day and to realize meaningful life outcomes.

– from Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology.

Note: Approximately once a week a new blog in this series will be released.

Autism and the Sensory System
Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Taking In Sensory Information
Part Three: Processing Sensory Information
Part Four: Processing Delays
Part Five: Storing and Retrieving Information
Part Six: Categorization of Information
Part Seven: Critical Mass Development
Part Eight: The Role of Interoception, The Eighth Sensory System

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REFERENCES

Baker, A. E., Lane, A., Angley, M. T., &Young, R. L. (2008). The relationship between sensory processing patterns and behavioural responsiveness in autistic disorder: A pilot study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders38, 867–875.

Baranek, G. T., David, F. J., Poe, M. D., Stone, W. L., &Watson, L. R. (2006). Sensory experiences questionnaire: Discriminating sensory features in young children with autism, developmental delays, and typical development. Journal Child Psychology and Psychiatry47, 591–601.

Endow, J. (2019). Autistically Thriving: Reading Comprehension, Conversational Engagement, and Living a Self-Determined Life Based on Autistic Neurology. Lancaster, PA: Judy Endow.

Endow, J. (2012). Learning the Hidden Curriculum: The Odyssey of One Autistic Adult.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2006). Making Lemonade: Hints for Autism’s Helpers. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2013). Painted Words: Aspects of Autism Translated. Cambridge, WI: CBR Press.

Endow, J. (2009). Paper Words: Discovering and Living With My Autism.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009). The Power of Words: How we think about people with autism spectrum disorders matters! Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2009). Outsmarting Explosive Behavior: A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorders.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Endow, J. (2010). Practical Solutions for Stabilizing Students With Classic Autism to Be Ready to Learn: Getting to Go.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Myles, B. S., Endow, J., & Mayfield, M. (2013). The Hidden Curriculum of Getting and Keeping a Job: Navigating the Social Landscape of Employment.Shawnee Mission, KS: AAPC Publishing.

Leekam, S.R., Nieto, C., Libby, S.J., Wing, L., & Gould, J. (2007) Describing the sensory abnormalities of children and adults with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 894-910.