For children with an autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing issues can be problematic. Overwhelmed by loud, chaotic environments, children with ASD may become overstimulated and act out in ways that are unsafe or inappropriate. Sometimes, parents make the decision to stop taking children into crowded places, to avoid meltdowns. But do these problems resolve themselves as the child grows to maturity?
In short, yes. For most people with ASD, sensory issues become much milder as the child grows. Sometimes they resolve on their own, but even when they’re severe and continue for many years, sensory processing issues do improve. Often, this improvement can be enhanced by skills learned in occupational therapy or by providing the child with environmental accommodations.
- Understanding sensory processing issues. Often, children with ASD have trouble processing sensory information they take in through not only their five senses- taste, sight, sound, touch, and smell- but also through two lesser–known internal senses. These internal senses are proprioception, which has to do with body awareness and movement, and vestibular sense, which involves balance and coordination. When a child is overly sensitive to sensory input, it can become overwhelming, which leads to avoidance. On the other hand, some children are under–sensitive, which can cause them to bump into things and people intentionally, and seek out additional sensory stimulation. Some children face both issues, depending on the type of stimulation.
- Occupational therapy may help. Occupational therapists use different strategies, like swinging, spinning, and deep pressure, to help kids calm down, and they work with children on gross and fine motor skills. Some OTs work in schools, consulting on accommodations for children with ASD and helping children to regulate within the environment of the classroom. Pillows for sitting, weighted vests, fidgets, and breathing exercises can all provide sensory input that helps children feel more in control.
- Continuing to use the coping skills learned in OT can be beneficial. Using weighted blankets, drinking through a straw, chewing gums, wearing headphones in public places, and using fidget toys are all compensatory measures that can be helpful even for teenagers and adults. As people grow and mature, they learn to avoid potentially overwhelming situations, and how to develop strategies for self-help.
- Maturity can also bring the motivation to tolerate discomfort. Young children are not as self-aware as teenagers and adults, and so they may not realize which behaviors are not socially appropriate. As kids grow up, they learn to manage some of their sensory issues, so that they can achieve things they want, like staying in a social situation a little while longer. There are also neurodevelopmental processes that can help change certain behaviors and improve sensory issues.
- Sometimes, sensory issues stick around. Not everyone with sensory issues improve with time. Some people still require some accommodation in order to function in situations that they find stressful or overwhelming. Knowing how to adapt and how to self-advocate is important in managing sensory issues. Avoiding triggers like crowds and loud noises can help, as can compensatory tools like soft clothing and dark glasses. Technology is also a boon, and there are adaptive and assistive technology tools that can help people with sensory processing issues accomplish things they might otherwise have been unable to manage.
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
How much do you know about Asperger’s? Asperger’s is a mild form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, and some experts believe it’s present in at least one in every 250 people. Many historical figures, like Mozart, Einstein, Marie Curie, and Thomas Jefferson, have shown symptoms of Asperger’s, and yet the condition is not something that most people really understand. Recently, Josephine Mele, whose grandson has Asperger’s, came up with an ingenious way to help people understand Asperger’s, using this ABC guide.
- A: Aloof. Kids with Asperger’s are often perceived as aloof, when in fact, it’s just that they lack social skills. They’re not always good with abstract concepts, so they’re better at games with step-by-step rules.
- B: Behavior. Sometimes people perceive children with Asperger’s or another type of Autism Spectrum Disorder as having behavioral problems, but it’s actually a medical problem.
- C: Conversation. Conversations can be awkward for a child with Asperger’ because they don’t understand small talk. Instead, they use talking simply to share information.
- D: Different. A child with Asperger’s typically becomes aware of his or her differences from other kids at around age 7.
- E: Eye contact. Children with Asperger’s tend to avoid eye contact, even as infants. They may have trouble concentrating on what someone is saying if they are looking into a person’s eyes.
- F: Favorite subjects. A child with Asperger’s will want to talk about every detail of a favorite topic, whether or not the other person is interested.
- G: Groups. Groups are often a problem for kids with Asperger’s because they have an unusually strong sense of hearing. Overwhelmed by the noise level of a large group, they may act out.
- H: Hyperactive. Hyperactivity is a common symptom of Asperger’s.
- I: Impulsive. Because of an inability to see things from another person’s perspective, kids with Asperger’s often display impulsive behavior that can be embarrassing for parents in public.
- J: Jokes. Kids with Asperger’s tend to absorb information literally, so they often have trouble with pretend play or jokes.
- K: Kindergarten. Kindergarten can be challenging for a child with Asperger’s because everything is new, unfamiliar, and confusing.
- L: Listening. Kids who have Asperger’s can be good at listening, even if they don’t seem to be paying attention. When they’re not interested in the topic, though, they may not listen.
- M: Motor skills. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder tend to have difficulty with muscle control, which impedes their motor skills.
- N: Naïve. Because kids with Asperger’s are honest, with good intentions, and expect others to be the same, they’re often the target of practical jokers and bullies. They take things at face value and believe things without question.
- O: Order. Kids with Asperger’s function better when everything is in the same place all the time: order is important.
- P: Patience. Like other kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, children with Asperger’s lack patience when they need something, but have a lot of patience with babies, animals, older people, and people with special needs.
- Q: Questions. Lacking a social filter, kids with Asperger’s may ask questions at inappropriate times and don’t respond when told to stop.
- R: Routine. Routines are absolutely necessary, and kids with Asperger’s may have trouble coping with changes to the schedule or rules.
- S: Sitting. Sitting still can be difficult with Asperger’s, because cramping, twitching muscles can pose a physical problem.
- T: Tantrums. Tantrums thrown by a child with Asperger’ can be out of control, and often seem to lack cause.
- U: Understanding. Kids with Asperger’s require extra understanding because they learn differently than other children.
- V: Voice. Children with Asperger’s may have trouble reading aloud, because their voices often sound like they lack intonation or emotion, and each word is spoken as stand-alone information rather than part of a story.
- W: Weight. Full-length body contact, perhaps from a heavy blanket or a strong hug, can calm down an overactive brain.
- X: X-ray. Doctors are using x-rays and brain scans to gather more information on Asperger’s. This is how they know that the brain of someone with Asperger’s works differently than a neurotypical brain.
- Y: Young. The younger a child can be diagnosed with Asperger’s, the sooner he or she can get the help needed to be successful. That’s why all children should be screened for developmental delays at 18 and 24 months old.
- Z: Zone. Children with Asperger’s can get so deeply involved in what they’re doing that it’s often hard to get them out of the zone and help them focus on something else. Setting a time limit, requiring breaks, and giving a warning may help.
Learning about Asperger’s and Autism Spectrum Disorder is the first step towards understanding and being able to help a child with ASD navigate the world. If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, STAR of CA is here to offer support. Founded in 2006, we provide behavioral and psychological services to people with ASD and related disorders in a nurturing environment that offers support for the entire family. We love what we do, and are devoted to improving lives through focused, caring services. You can contact us through our website or by calling 805.588.8896.
In children with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, you may notice behaviors that can get in the way of daily routines. As you work with your child to improve these challenging behaviors through ABA , it can be helpful to learn to identify each behavior so that it can be addressed properly. Let’s take a closer look at some of the behavioral challenges that exist with ASD.
When a child with ASD leaves a safe environment, such as his or her home or school, without permission, it is known as elopement. Elopement is common among children who have ASD.
Non-compliance happens when a child with ASD does not follow instructions, such as directions from a parent or a teacher.
Many children with ASD can become intensely absorbed in particular hobbies and other activities to the point that it makes it difficult for them to focus on anything else. This type of behavior may prove challenging when it comes to making big changes to the home or school environment.
Some children who have ASD may engage in harmful behavior towards themselves. Some known behaviors include hair pulling, pinching, or biting.
Managing behaviors associated with ASD has its challenges, but help is available with STAR of CA. We provide research-based therapy near Ventura along with whole family support to facilitate happier homes for children with ASD. To learn more about our programs and dedicated team, give us a call today at (805) 644-7827.
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