Sensory Perception in Autism and Asperger Syndrome
The real world and the perceived world (i.e., our mental image of the world) differ. Though we live in the same physical world and deal with the same ‘raw material’, differences in sensory functioning create invisible walls between autistic and non-autistic people.
The metaphorical descriptions of children and adults with autism, such as ‘aliens’, ‘Martians’ - become factual! They do live in a different world! The same stimuli look, sound, feel, smell differently for them. When we want to show our love and affection by hugging the child, he pulls away as the pain from the touch is unbearable. So what is our interpretation?
- ‘He doesn’t love me.”
We are often ‘deaf’ to the sounds our child cannot tolerate (for instance, sounds of fans working, kettle boiling). We are ‘blind’ to a 60-cycle flickering of fluorescent lights that makes the room pulsate on and off. Just because we are ‘deaf/blind/dumb, etc.’ to the stimuli our little ‘aliens’ perceive with extreme acuteness, we describe their behaviours as bizarre, odd, inappropriate.
However, as the systems work differently their responses to sensory stimuli are ‘normal’ (from autistic point of view), though different and unconventional for us, living in a parallel world.
It is crucial to understand how the qualitative differences of sensory perception associated with autism affect each particular child. Teachers and other professionals who work with autistic children need to recognize sensory differences in autism in order to select appropriate methods and plan intervention for these children. As all the senses are integrated, the deficiency in one may lead to disturbances in the other(s). It is, therefore, necessary to find out which sense(s) and to what extent is deficient, and which senses can ‘be relied on’.
Become a Professional Parent
1. Exploring the Sensory World of Autism
The first in the series: Becoming a Professional Parent, this book explores covers a range of sensory perceptual issues, provides ideas and tips (how to help the child) and will help those who live with and/or work with autistic children.
More of my work
Revised Edition (2016)
“With the expertise of a lifetime in the field, Dr Olga Bogdashina weaves the latest research, decades of practice and powerful intellect into a tapestry of understanding for improving assessment and education with easy-to-implement practical solutions for addressing sensory issues. A must-read for educators, parents, clinicians, scientists and anyone wishing to deepen their understanding of what it means to autism.”
Stephen Mark Shore, EdD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education, Adelphi University
First edition of Sensory Perceptual Issues in Autism and Asperger syndrome.
Based on my dissertation, the book offers a reconstruction of the sensory world of autism to aid in the understanding of the way autistic people experience the world. It provides a comprehensive account of how autistic writers have described their sensory experiences and support the reader in identifying the needs of those less able to express themselves.
The reactions and actions of autistic individuals are logical and rational because they are dictated by their ‘realities’ which are very different from a ‘normal reality'
A lecture I taught for Sheffield Hallam University, looking at the Sensory world of autism.