Sensory dysfunction is known to affect the quality of life of people with Autism. Certain qualities of touch, sound or movement are known to be distracting and unpleasant in some sufferers, while others may not even notice a particular sound or colour, which can make everyday activities difficult. An estimated 80 percent of those diagnosed suffering from some aspect of sensory dysfunction.
Jackie Edwards, whose two sons both experience sensory processing difficulties, states “I first realized they had sensory processing differences when they cried at the sound of the hoover or when someone flushed the toilet.
“My second son was diagnosed with classic “Kanner” Autism aged two and a half and his brother was later diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. They are now aged 21 and 19 and continue to find sensory processing difficult.
“For my Autistic son his home has been chosen in a quiet village where there are few cars or disturbances for him to have to process. His home is painted in natural calming colors, although he enjoys sensory stimulation that he is able to control, such as fluffy cushions and musical toys.
“My son with Asperger’s is more able to use strategies such as playing his favorite music through an iPod to drown out the sound of external surroundings that he finds difficult to filter out.
“Both boys are sensitive to the feel of clothes on their skin and need to wear what’s comfortable rather than what’s in fashion. One is overly sensitive to the taste of food and has a restricted diet while the other will eat anything.
“Research into sensory processing is therefore essential as it will help everyone to gain a better understanding of what a person with Autism might be experiencing rather than looking from a neurotypical perspective and expecting them to behave in a way that we expect.
“Gaining a better understanding of what their processing differences are – will help us support them in their own community.”
Note: Adapted from a news release issued by the Cardiff University, Dr. McGonigle