Sensory Sensitivity and Autism
Tips for children with sensory anxiety.
Anxiety, sensory processing, and sensory overload
75% of children with Autism present sensory anxiety and sensitivity. When your child’s body is not processing, interpreting, and responding correctly to the sensory information around him, the fear of not knowing what sensory experiences may come up is enough to cause anxiety.
Meltdowns are a typical reaction of feeling overwhelmed. Many children with autism are incapable of self-regulation, so most times sensory-overloads end up in sensory-meltdowns.
Tips for helping children with ASD and Sensory Anxiety
1.- Identify what triggers your child: Each time your child presents signs of being overwhelmed or sensory overload take the time to identify what it might be. We recommend you to use the ABC chart ( Antecedent-Behavior-Consequence Chart) to make it easier for you to figure them out and to understand it next time they might come out.
2.- Identify and be cautious: Once you identify what might be causing anxiety in your child, take the time and try to slowly explain and introduce him to what it might be. For example, if he gets anxious about the sound of the nail clipper try to explain to him and introduce him slowly to its sound. We recommend doing this with caution because the last thing that you want to do is overwhelm your child even more, so do this when he is calm and rested and present him only one thing at a time.
3.-Warn him: Giving your child warning about sounds and lights can be a great way to enable him to brace himself and prepare. We understand that this is not possible all the time but many situations can be announced so he can be ready. For example, if you need to clean the house and turn on the vacuum let him know in advance so that he can prepare and play in another room, or if you are driving and a police car is approaching let him know so he can cover his ears.
4.- Prepare: Exposition to noises and things that might trigger anxiety needs to be gradual, so we highly recommend to prepare for situations that can stress your child. Earplugs, toys, and noise canceling headphones are a great way to be sharp and ready if anything comes up. Fidget toys are a great way to expel nervous energy and they are easy to carry.
5.- Be patient: Being a parent is challenging but raising an ASD child is life-changing. We understand what it feels like to constantly wonder what the triggering situation might be if you are using the right tool or not, and figuring out what stresses your child is equally stressful for you. Breathe, it is okay. Remember that both you and your child are under a learning process and that no parent knows all the answers. Have grace for yourself and for your child and know that your journey is unique and that all efforts will eventually pay off.
At World Stem Cell Clinic, we believe that that having an informed parent –in an effort to empower him and his family– is the only way to for us to deliver optimal healthcare. Visit our website to find out more about our services and let us be part of your journey. You are not alone!