The sensual world of an autistic child.
Every day we all use our senses and do so to a great extent subconsciously. We look, we listen, we taste, we smell and we touch. We also use the sense of balance and proprioception, or deep feeling. All this happens harmoniously and one could say "painlessly".
The autistic child also uses all these "tools" so that the brain can gather the information needed to function. But in people with autism, the perception and tolerance of the stimulus is divergent - it is lowered or elevated. Therefore, the brain does not accumulate, organize and process properly. Impulses that reach the brain are either too strong and too numerous, or too weak to be used properly. As a consequence, children's reactions are inadequate and their irrational behavior sometimes leads to alienation.
How autistic children can receive impulses from the outside?
Sounds - Autistic children's hearing can be either too sharp or dull. As a result, hypersensitive children run away from the sound, such as clambering or murmuring to muffle overwhelming noises. Children with reduced sensitivity may seek hearing impulses, so they do not shy away from loud sounds, screams, etc.
Images - Scientists believe that autistic children have a gazing gaze - they are three times larger than the average person. They also have the unusual ability to distinguish objects against complex patterns. People with autism often focus on lines, angles, patterns, flying and spinning objects. On the other hand, the problem is focusing on the other person's face. At the end of the last century, studies have been conducted to show that the sight of a loved one's face even produces autistic feelings related to anxiety or anger.
Flavors - Autistic children often have trouble eating, some of them do not want to eat certain foods, and others are very eager to eat foods rich in flavors, spicy seasoned. It is assumed that the source of aversion to food may be the unacceptable consistency or taste of dishes, but pro f Temple Grandin (referred to as the "out" of autism) in his book, "The Brain of an Autistic Journey into an Extraordinary Mind" seems to adhere to such a simplistic explanation. After all, the repulsion of undercooked egg whites or "smudged" water or fish (with characteristic odor) is quite common and is not a sign of autism. Fragrances - excessive or insufficiently sensitive sense of smell is another cause of untypical behavior of people with autism. Children who do not smell odors can look intensely at their sources. Children with hypersensitivity smell away from the odor surrounding them, and it is worth noting that although we do not see each other every day, each of us carries on dozens of different smells (soaps, shampoos, dishes, moisture, washing powder, perfume, skin Shoe polish, etc. It also comes with location-specific fragrances, such as the smell of flowers, dust, smoke, flue gas, cleaners and much more. .
Touch - Children with autism can avoid touching, reluctantly hugging to loved ones, or changing clothes, combing or washing. Touch is often an uncomfortable and painful experience for them. With a weak touch, children can stimulate, for example, gnawing, beating, or scratching.
There are two more senses, which we usually use less consciously. It's balance and deep feeling. The functioning of these senses may also be subject to disturbances.
Proprioception - Children with impaired proprioperception like to cuddle, wrap heavy Weighted Blanket s, squeeze through tight tunnels, chew, chew, clap, jerk, etc. All this is to provide them with strong, determined oppression.
Autism is often accompanied by imbalances. Uncertainty of steps, falls, instability, reluctance to walk on the curbs, inability to ride a bike, or scooters are some of the behaviors and traits caused by these disorders, or more precisely hypersensitivity to the vestibular system. Hypersensitivity can also lead to avoid tilting or turning the head. With insufficient sensibility of balance, the child is willing to jump, spin, laugh, etc.
Effects of sensory disturbances
The surroundings do not understand the strange autistic behavior. On the other hand, children affected by this disorder do not understand why other children laugh, cry, perform different gestures and activities. In this way, the wall is formed between the autists and the remaining group, and autistic children close themselves in their world. They avoid new play, take unknown actions, seek new sensations, and even live according to new (disordered) mode of the day. In their reality, everything is predictable, schematic, routine and safe. Such a retraction causes no barrier to be broken and progress is impossible.
Sensory integration therapy
In the interruption of isolation and stimulation of development helps many undertakings. On the one hand, they may be social education campaigns on autism and adapted to integrate children with autism into the pre-school and school system, and on the other hand, work on the development of autistic people, ie, sensory integration therapy. Therapy is largely based on continuous observation of the child. In the first phase the therapist locates the source and size of the disorder. This is possible thanks to well thought out therapeutic plan, tests and various exercises. The behavior of a child (avoidance or search for specific sensations) is an indicator of the course of treatment.
Therapeutic sessions require the use of special equipment (mattresses, swings, skateboards, ladders, waistcoats and bed linen, etc.). This equipment is intended to help the proprioceptive, atrial and tactile systems properly receive and process various stimuli.
Exercises are tailored to the child's abilities so that they are neither too difficult nor too easy for them. They are also often varied, and their collection is corrected and widened, allowing the child to develop skills.
Therapy cannot be tedious or disingenuous. It is important here both the choice of exercise and the personality of the therapist and his ability to connect with patients. The greater the openness between them, the more likely it is to diagnose disorders and work better on improving the condition of the child.
The fact that sensory integration therapy has profound meaning convince the increasing success of therapists, researchers and patients themselves. Among the latter certainly worth mentioning is Temple Grandin, an autistic person who has earned the title of zootechnics professor at Colorado State University. She is the author of books translated into many languages. In 2010 prof. Grandin was recognized as one of the most influential people according to the "Time" magazine. In her work she described many of her own observations on the life of autistic people, including This, concerning the need for deep oppression and the ways and effects of its satisfaction.
A Polish therapist who describes the influence of sensory integration on the functioning and development of children with autism is Zbigniew Przyrowski, a member of the Polish Society of Sensory Integration Therapists. In 2001, he applied weight vests to 31 patients who had autism, ADHD, or gravitational insecurity. Everyone has seen positive changes.