Autism: A Difference in the Senses

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According to The National Autistic Society, many people on the autistic spectrum find it hard to process sensory information.

A difference can affect any of the senses in terms of over or under-sensitivity. This can then lead to a change in behaviour in that person.

Firstly, it is key to be aware of the environment and if this could be creating difficulty for someone. For example, senses can be heightened in busy areas which may lead to feelings of anxiety and stress for that person.

Sensory Sensitivity explained:

The video explains very well how hypersensitivity can affect someone. This can range from the range of senses through to body awareness.

However, people can also experience under sensitivity with the senses. In terms of sight as an example, objects can appear quite dark and central vision can be blurry.

People on the autistic spectrum can also experience rare conditions such as Synaesthesia. This is where an experience can go through multiple sensory systems. For example, a person could hear a sound but experience that sound as a colour.

How can you help?

If you are with someone who may be experiencing stress due to their difference in senses, there are things you can do to help.

1 – You can play music for them, choose calming music which has 60 beats per minute (the same as a resting heart beat).

2 – Use low lighting at home or when out avoid places that have fluorescent lights.

3 – Create a steady rhythm by tapping your foot if you feel someone is about to break down.

4 – Always offer to move out of the current environment that could be stressful for the person you are with.

Here is another helpful video from TNAS with Dana, Luis, Rosie and Chris who are all on the autistic spectrum. They are discussing their experiences with sensory overload.

By having a better understanding about sensory overload, we can help others and look out for warning signs to prevent a break down.

Autism Helpline:

Tel: 0808 800 4104
(open 10am-4pm, Monday-Thursday, 9am-3pm on Fridays)
Text: 07903 200 200
for an information pack only)
Online: Visit
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