Tag Archives: behavioral strategies

What teachers need to know about autism sensory issues

  • Behavioral issues may be caused by a student’s unique sensory needs.
  • 85% of students with autism have sensory processing disorders.

Did you know that there are actually 8 sensory systems in your body, not just 4?

Our bodies take information in through the following sensory systems:

The The functional four:

  • sight
  • taste
  • smell
  •  hearing

and then we have the foundational four: “body based”:

  • tactile (touch)
  • vestibular (movement)
  • proprioception (input from muscles and joints)
  • interoception-A lesser known sense:  (internal sensors indicating physiological conditions)

Sensory Processing: A person’s way of noticing and responding to sensory events that occur during life. These patters of responding affect how people respond in situations. (Dunn, 1997)

Occupational Therapist (OT): An OT is the experts on sensory processing. They will work with the family and the IEP team to conduct screenings and assessments to determine the needs of the student within the context of the school environment. The goal of looking at sensory processing is to improve participation, NOT to change the sensory processing patters. To learn what an IEP is please read What is an IEP?

The DSM-5 includes langauge about sensory processing and autism as part of the diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)…

 Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g., apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).

To learn more about the DSM-V and autism please read Changes In The DSM-V For Autism

Neurological Thresholds: Describe the level at which the brain will respond to sensory stimulation. When a student has a low threshold they respond to everything around them and often have sensory profiles that are “sensitive” or “avoiding.” Students who have a high threshold can appear be passive and don’t respond often to sensory stimulation. They may have sensory profiles that are “low registration” or “seeking”

Unique Sensory Profiles:

Low Registration: Indicate a high threshold and a student is slow to respond to stimuli in the environment.

Seeking: indicate high thresholds and this student will often add movement, touch, sound and visual stimuli to the school day.

Sensitivity: Indicate low thresholds and children detect more details than others and may be more hyperactive, distracted and easily upset because they notice more things in the environment than their peers.

Avoiding: Indicate low thresholds and children may avoid work to reduce input. They may seem resistant and unwilling to participate in activities, particularly in unfamiliar ones.

Check out this “model of sensory processing” chart and watch the linked Youtube video for more detail on how to interpret this chart…

Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 7.31.28 PM

References:

Learners on the Autism Spectrum 2nd edition by Kari Buron and Pamela Wolfberg

Dunn, W. (1991a). The impact of sensory processing abilities on the daily lives of young children and their families: A conceptual model. Infants and Young Children, 9(4), 23-25.