Each of us take in 2 million bits of sensory information every second of the day.
This includes the feeling of clothes on our skin, to the lights in the room, to the sounds that are occurring around us.
The average individual takes that information in, knows what is important and has the ability to organize that information, and knows what to discard.
Typically, we don’t pay attention to every sound in our environment.
However, we have the ability to recognize when there is a sound that we need to take note of, i.e. someone yelling for help.
This ability to take in all of this information, store what we need to be able to use in the future, and discard the rest, is sensory integration.
It is the ability of our senses to work together.
It is this sensory integration that lets us know the scent of an onion without seeing the onion, or know that a brick is heavy without picking it up.
Children with ASD were not blessed with a sensory system that works quite this smoothly.
They take in just as much information, but are not able to organize it adequately in their brain and as the information continues to come in, it become less and less organized, and more chaotic.
Therefore, children with autism often need sensory integration programs to help them deal with the overload.
Sensory integration programming can take many different forms.
For some children, it means that you need to provide them with sensory input at specific intervals throughout the day.
This involves providing them with as many different types of sensory input as you can and should include those items that are preferred by the child.
A good time to utilize this method is at natural transitions throughout the day.
Some children may be need desensitizing to certain types of sensory input that they find offensive.
It is important to remember that this is not a choice for them, but their inability to organize sensory information as they take it in.
Sensory overload is the result of the same problem.
While you and I can tune out certain kinds of noises in the environment, children with autism frequently cannot tune that out and hear everything that is occurring, leading to overload.
Monitor their environments and see if there is a way to reduce sensory input.
Noise canceling headphones can also be useful.
I share more ideas, tips and inspiration for parents of children with Asperger’s every month in The Aspirations Newsletter: http://www.aspirationsnewsletter.com
To making sense of the senses,