Fact sheet:  effects of Autism, an Autism Spectrum Disorder, on the sensory system of children


Clinicians making a proper assessment for autism would look for symptoms much like those found in Sensory Integration Dysfunction. Sensory experiences that parents don't even notice may be extremely frightening or unpleasant for a child - the feel of a certain fabric, sounds of certain frequency, particular colors or seemingly bland foods. Autistic children often exhibit problems coping with normal sensory input including sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.

Indicators of autism affecting the sensory system can include:
• Over sensitivity or under reactivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds
• physical clumsiness or carelessness

• being very particular about foods
• poor body awareness
• a tendency to be easily distracted
• impulsive physical or verbal behavior
• an activity level that is unusually high or low
• not unwinding or calming oneself
• difficulty learning new movements
• difficulty in making transitions from one situation to another
• social and/or emotional problems
• delays in speech, language or motor skills
• specific learning difficulties/delays in academic achievement.

However, it is important to remember that while most people with autism have some degree of sensory integration difficulty, not every person who has sensory problems is autistic.

One common example is autistic hearing. An autistic person may have trouble hearing certain people while other people are perceived as speaking at a higher volume. Autism can mean a person is unable to filter out sounds in certain situations, such as in a large crowd of people. However, this is perhaps a part of autism that tends to vary widely from person to person, so these examples may not apply to every autistic person. Note that such auditory difficulties fall under auditory processing disorders, and like sensory integration dysfunction, are not necessarily experienced by all people with autism or indicative of a diagnosis of autism.


For more information on Sensory Integration Dysfunction, see the Sensory problems fact sheet.


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This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation. It is derivative of an autism and Asperger's syndrome-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org

Individuals on the autism spectrum can face a variety of sensory problems affecting touch, movement, hearing and sight