“There are 5 senses that you will all be familiar with; Vision, Sound, Smell, Taste and Touch. There are also 3 more that we are less aware of; Vestibular (movement and balance), Proprioception (body awareness) and Interoception (how our body feels inside).

Autistic children and autistic adults often present different responses to these sensory stimuli such as light, loud sounds, soft touch etc. Although it was only relatively recently that the Diagnostic Criteria was rewritten (DSM V) to include ‘sensory processing’ difficulties most autistic people, their carers and people supporting them have known of these ‘differences’ for some time.

Every autistic individual will respond or react in a very individual way to this stimuli. Some will be hypersensitive (over responsive) whilst others may be hyposensitive (under responsive). Another group will be ‘sensory seekers’. And of course, each individual can be any of these depending on the stimuli or how they are ‘feeling’ at a particular time. The more common experiences are; a sensitivity to sounds, which can be painful, an intolerance of touch or high pain thresholds.

If these sensory behaviours are not understood, then they may impact on the ability of the autistic child or adult to concentrate, manage or cope with many everyday situations and may even be seen as challenging behaviour.