Sensory Needs

To function and participate in the world that surrounds us, we need to use our senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch). Senses provide people with unique experiences and allow us to interact and be involved with the rest of society. They help us to understand the environment around us and respond within it. Our senses play a significant role in determining what actions we take in a particular situation. Imagine what happens when one, or all, of your senses are intensified or are not present at all, often referred to as sensory integration dysfunction. This is the case with many children with autism. The auditory system is situated in the inner ear, this informs us about sounds In the environment. It is the most commonly recognised aspect of sensory impairment.

Research into auditory sensitivities and autism

Auditory Hypersensitivty in children and teenagers with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Gomes, E., Rotta, N., Pedroso, F., Sleifer, P., and Danesi, M. Arq Neuropsiquiatr (2004); 62(3-B): 797-801.

Sensory Integration

Source: Autism Help Org

Children and adults with autism, as well as those with other developmental disabilities, may have a dysfunctional sensory system. Sometimes one or more senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation. Such sensory problems may be the underlying reason for such behaviors as rocking, spinning, and hand-flapping.

Tactile System

Source: Autism Help Org

The tactile system includes nerves under the skin's surface that send information to the brain. This information includes light touch, pain, temperature, and pressure. These play an important role in perceiving the environment as well as protective reactions for survival.

Vestibular System

Source: Autism Help Org

The vestibular system refers to structures within the inner ear (the semi-circular canals) that detect movement and changes in the position of the head. For example, the vestibular system tells you when your head is upright or tilted (even with your eyes closed). Dysfunction within this system may manifest itself in two different ways.

Proprioceptive System

Source: Autism Help Org

The proprioceptive system refers to components of muscles, joints, and tendons that provide a person with a subconscious awareness of body position. When proprioception is functioning efficiently, an individual's body position is automatically adjusted in different situations; for example, the proprioceptive system is responsible for providing the body with the necessary signals to allow us to sit properly in a chair and to step off a curb smoothly.