The medical community is learning more and more about sensory issues, their symptoms, and their causes. Many children who experience sensory issues have underlying disorders that may go undiagnosed if the parents and professionals don’t take the proper steps. Here are some signs that your child may be experiencing sensory issues so that you can become aware and best support their needs in the long-term.
Understanding Sensory Issues
Sensory issues are common in children on the Autism spectrum, but not all children who experience sensory issues have Autism. For example, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a condition in which an individual’s brain doesn’t properly process sensory information.
This disorder can cause over-responsiveness to external stimuli (called hypersensitivity), and under-responsiveness to external stimuli, called (hyposensitivity). Both of these types of sensitivities can cause specific behaviors in children who experience them.
Signs of Hypersensitivities
Hypersensitivity in children with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders manifests as overreactions to external stimuli within their environment. Children experience hypersensitivities concerning the five senses of touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. Here are some key signs to look for that may suggest your child is dealing with hypersensitivities:
- Easily distracted by background noises that nobody else notices
- Avoids hugs and physical touch, even from family members
- Afraid of crowds and large groups of people
- Experiences poor coordination and balance
- Extreme responses to high-pitched noises and loud sounds
- May exhibit fear in situations where no real danger is present
- Fearful around playground equipment, such as swings and slides
Signs of Hyposensitivities
Hyposensitivity in children with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorders manifests as underreactions to external stimuli within their environment. So, hyposensitivity is essentially the opposite reaction to that of hypersensitivity.
While children with hypersensitivities may be extremely fearful of certain stimuli, children with hyposensitivities may completely lack fear in normally fearful situations.
Here are some key signs to look for that may suggest your child is dealing with hyposensitivities:
- Constantly needing to touch textures or people even at inappropriate times
- Lacks understanding of the concept of personal space
- Exhibits clumsiness and uncoordinated movements
- Doesn’t understand own strength (and may accidentally harm other children and animals when playing together)
- Very high pain tolerance and doesn’t always react when hurt
- Enjoys energetic, playful movements, like jumping or spinning
- Exhibits thrill-seeking behavior and can be dangerous at times
Now that you know the signs to look for in your child, you can better understand if your child is experiencing these symptoms. If you feel that your child needs further evaluation, consult with a medical professional or a child psychiatrist for more information. You may also want to consider the benefits of creating a sensory playroom at home or building a ‘Calming Corner‘ to give your child with sensory issues a productive playtime experience.