Touch Sensitivity

Sensitive skin is a topic near and dear to my heart — when I was little, I would break out in hives every time my mom changed laundry detergents! My skin is very sensitive when it comes to cleansers and scents. But that’s not the only kind of sensitive skin out there. Touch sensitivity is a kind of malfunction in the tactile sensory system. Sensations that might be meaningless background noise (like the feel of the seams in your shirt) might be uncomfortable or even painful to a person with touch sensitivity (also known as tactile defensiveness). A person with … Continue reading

Ten Ways to Help Your Child with Aspergers Syndrome Succeed in School

Children with high-functioning autism or Aspergers Syndrome have many similarities to their peers. They want to be liked, accepted, and fit in with their classmates. It was once assumed that these children preferred isolation, but this is not usually the case. Instead, many have described that it is their difficulty with social skills and pragmatic language, sensory differences, and restricted interests that make relating to others a challenge. Whenever possible, children with high-functioning autism or Aspergers Syndrome should be mainstreamed into a regular classroom with age-level peers. This is important for their social growth, intellectual stimulation, and the ability to … Continue reading

Promoting Communication in Your Non-Verbal Child

By request, I am taking a more in-depth look at ways in which parents can help promote communication from their non-verbal children. As part of my series on floor time strategies, this blog will be specifically devoted to floor time techniques to use with children who don’t speak. (Not sure what floor time is? Click here.) For the non-verbal child, all the rules of floor time still apply: Give 20 – 30 minutes of your undivided attention, several times per day. Build on the child’s favorite behaviors. You are going to let your son or daughter select the activity through … Continue reading

Fireworks Displays For Kids With Sensory Issues

Watching fireworks on the Fourth of July is usually considered to be a great “family friendly” activity. If your child has sensory issues, then he or she is unlikely to enjoy the loud, booming, explosions that accompany the firecrackers. A mall in Connecticut is holding their first ever “sensory friendly” fireworks this year. Children who have autism spectrum disorders, or who have other sensory issues, might not necessarily enjoy the fireworks displays that many families make a point of viewing on Independence Day. The loud noises can make kids who have certain special needs really uncomfortable or even upset. In … Continue reading

Sensory Friendly Films from AMC

AMC is going to have “sensory friendly” showings of children’s movies, in select areas. If you have a child who is on the Autism Spectrum, you may want to give these special showings a try. This is the first time I have heard of a movie theater considering the needs of kids who have sensitivities to sound and light. AMC Entertainment has movie theaters all across the country. They have teamed up with the Autism Society of America. Together, they are providing a sensory friendly movie experience for children who have autism, and their parents. This is a very new … Continue reading

Sensory Integration Dysfunction: What is Vestibular Disorder?

The child with dysfunction of sensory integration (DSI) gets confused signals as the brain is interpreting information from the senses. This can cause all kinds of difficult or unusual behaviors in your son or daughter. (To understand the basics of sensory integration disorder, click here.) We have more than five senses, including the vestibular sense, which is input from the inner ear, along with visual, auditory, and movement receptors that travel to the brainstem, reticular formation, and cerebellum for processing. This input provides information about balance and movement, and how the size of our body relates to the sizes of … Continue reading

8 Difficult Autistic Behaviors (And Why They Happen)

Children with autism have numerous challenging behaviors for parents to deal with. Sometimes the behaviors seem to make no sense whatsoever. The child might seem unreachable, temperamental, and impossible to deal with. However, when we take a look at the underlying deficits that contribute to the problems, we can gain a better understanding. And with a little understanding, we are better equipped to find ways to help. The following is a list of eight typical behaviors of an autistic child, and their likely causes. This is not an exhaustive list of all autism symptoms, and some autistic children will only … Continue reading

Now Hear This: What is Auditory Dysfunction?

One of Kyle’s first symptoms of autism was his failure to respond to his name being called. He would sit amongst his toys, engrossed in whatever he was doing, and not turn his head when I shouted to him. Once in a while he would look, but frequently he didn’t. His lack of response was so strange that we had his hearing tested. But functionally, Kyle had normal hearing. Even so, hearing is more than just the process of an ear manufacturing sounds–it’s also the brain’s ability to interpret the sounds and respond appropriately. Often kids on the autism spectrum … Continue reading

Visual Dysfunction: More than Meets the Eye

I know what you’re thinking: My child can see perfectly. I can skip this blog. But there’s more to vision than just seeing. Children with sensory integration dysfunction often have problems processing visual information, even though they can “see.” (If you have concerns about your child’s basic ability to see properly, click here.) I often notice that my son Kyle will put objects close to his eyes when he’s playing or thinking. Kyle has normal vision but I believe he is under-sensitive to visual stimuli. That means he craves visual input, and so he watches video clips repeatedly, creates movement … Continue reading

“Stop Touching Me!” Symptoms of Tactile Dysfunction

Our skin is covered with microscopic receptors that send information to our brains. This is our sense of touch, or tactile sense. We use our sense of touch to experience all kinds of things from itching, to tickling, pressure, hot and cold, pain, vibration, and movement. The “tactile sense” is necessary for all kinds of activities such as walking up steps, writing on a chalkboard, hugging someone, getting dressed, or testing water temperature. From infancy we require tactile stimulation to meet nearly all of our physical and emotional needs. We even need our tactile sense to develop good social skills. … Continue reading