Many people get distracted by tight fitting clothes, labels or the feel of certain materials. Others may loose concentration by itches or an uneasiness or restlessness in parts of the body. Some have a strong dislike of being touched lightly, but love the sense of deep pressure when being hugged. Over or under-sensitivity to touch, heat, cold or pain can all contribute to behaviour or reactions that are outside the norm. Although these tactile sensitivities start at skin level, it is the brain that decides if they get through to our awareness or are filtered out. For better learning and development it is important that our brain ignores most information from our skin or internal body parts as that allows us to concentrate on the visual and auditory information being presented to us.Auditory, or sound, sensitivities are also very common and many children on the autistic spectrum will cover their ears at the sound of a vacuum cleaner, hair dryer or other loud noises. They may also be easily distracted by small sounds that most others would not even hear.
Visual sensitivities may not be as obvious to observe, but visual overload can lead to lying under tables or behind sofas or covering the eyes. It may also be the underlying cause of strong aversion to certain colours, wanting to line up toys, sorting things by colour, or melt-downs in supermarkets that are often visually very busy.
Smell and taste sensitivities can lead to very picky eating habits, the need to separate foods on different plates and not mixing foods together. There often is an overlap with tactile sensitivities with strong preferences or aversions for certain textures, smooth, crunchy, lumpy, soft or spongy. Smelling food, objects or people may also indicate over or under-sensitivities.
Lastly, an under-sensitive sense of balance (vestibular system) can lead to hyperactive behaviour or fidgeting and a lack of concentration. An over-sensitive sense of balance often results in a lack of movement and very cautious behaviour.
Poor sensory processing lies behind all these issues that lead to typical 'autistic-like behaviour'. Strengthening the ability of the brain to filter out unwanted information and combining all the sensory signals into a coherent whole body experience is key to reducing the effects of poor sensory processing.
Faster and more efficient sensory processing can be achieved in a short space of time through intensive neuro-sensory training. SAS offers a range of condition-specific courses at SAS Centres, through SAS Practitioners, or as a SAS At Home course. Tailor-made brain training that can make a real difference!