Imagine walking into your grocery store for your weekly shopping. The bright glow of florescent lights, the loud noises from people and shopping carts, and the strong smells coming from multiple food groups may not bother you, but for children with Autism it may be an overwhelming experience. Children with Autism frequently experience difficulty with sensory integration.
Sensory integration is the interpretation of sensory stimulation by the brain. Sensory integration dysfunction is a neurological disorder that affects processing information from the five senses: vision, auditory, touch, smell, and taste. Due to the disorganization of the senses in the brain, varying problems in development and behavior may arise. Sensory processing disorder may affect one or more senses.
Sensory integration dysfunction often co-occurs with Autism. Individuals may seek or avoid certain sensory situations. Children who crave sensory input may excessively touch objects, crash into furniture, and/or fixate on objects with lights and textures. Children who avoid sensory input may cover one’s ears, avoid personal touch, and/or experience discomfort with certain clothes. Sensory problems may be underlying reasons for behaviors such as rocking, spinning, and hand flapping.
Occupational therapists provide sensory integration to children in order to regulate and activate senses. Therapy activities are focused on arousing a child’s alertness by targeting appropriate sensory regulation. Below are a few of our favorite products targeting sensory regulation.
1. Weighted blanket: A weighted blanket can provide the tactile sensation a child is craving. A weighted blanket can be used at night to improve sleep as well!
2. Weighted compression vest: Similar to a weighted blanket, a compression vest provides tactile stimulation throughout the day. Compression vests may be worn under clothing during stressful activities to provide comfort and ease for a child.
4. Fidget pencil toppers: These toppers are great for school! They fit on the top of a pencil, and act as a fidget for children requiring constant tactile sensation and movement.
5. Resistance Tunnel: The resistance tunnel encourages heavy work while integrating sensory integration. Try to roll the therapy ball through the tunnel for extra heavy work!
For sensory avoiders, auditory sensation may cause frustration and uneasiness. Noise Reducing Earmuffs are a great product to own for loud situations that may be overwhelming for your child, such as flying, sports games, or grocery stores.
Check in next week for another post about children with Autism in honor of Autism Awareness month!
Lumiere Children's Therapy Team🖐️
Ford-Lanza, Alescia. “The 10 Best Sensory Products for Children with Autism.” Harkla, Harkla, 19 Apr. 2017, harkla.co/blogs/special-needs/sensory-products-autism.
Hatch-Rasmussen, Cindy. “Sensory Integration .” Autism Research Institute, www.autism.com/symptoms_sensory_overview.