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Autism Awareness Fact: Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensory Processing Disorder often accompanies a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. With this disorder, the brain does not accurately receive sensory information and/or does not appropriately respond. For instance:

  • Touch
    • Light touch may register as pain,
    • Oversensitivity
    • Deep muscle pressure feels good (bear hugs)
    • Unable to filter out sense of touch
  • Proprioceptive
    • Inner ear
    • Spinning in circles does not create dizziness
  • Motor Skills
    • Poor motor planning ability
    • Poor fine motor skills (handwriting, tying shoes)
  • Sight
    • Sensitivity to lights (fluorescent)
    • Colored glasses help this
  • Hearing/Auditory Processing
    • Can hear noises that others don’t
    • Can’t filter out noises
  • Sensitive Taste
  • Sensitivity to Smells


Sensory Seeking A child’s brain seeks input much like the stomach gets hungry. With a child that has Sensory Integration Disorder, the disconnects in processing information cause the brain to lack feedback, so it demands more. A child who is Sensory Seeking will look like a daredevil.

  • Jumps off the stairs or platforms that are too high
  • Spins in circles, but doesn’t feel dizzy
  • Acts invincible
  • Doesn’t cry when there is a clear injury


Sensory Aversive This child’s brain is in overdrive and experiences too much sensory information.

  • Gets car sick easily, even on a swing
  • Shies away from activities that same aged peers enjoy
  • Is oversensitive to touch and textures
  • May not want to wear shoes
  • Will complain about clothing being uncomfortable

As always, children on the autism spectrum who have sensory issues will respond differently than other children with the same issues. Occupational Therapy is helpful.