A child with autism can be a challenging and frustrating experience for parents. Even the smallest things become overwhelming for someone who hovers on the edge of coping instead of living in the moment. However, there are ways to help your child cope even during stressful moments that may not seem like they’re helping at first – but trust me when I say you will see results later!
Hyperlexia is a neurological condition that is characterized by an inability to process language. It’s not just about speaking, but also reading and writing. The Elemy Learning Studio offers tips on how to help your child cope with sensory-seeking behaviors. Read more in detail here: hyperlexia.
Sensory-seeking habits are not always harmful. In fact, for some autistic youngsters, they may be really beneficial.
Autism manifests itself in a variety of ways, including repetitive and sensory activities. Sensory processing difficulties affect the majority of persons with autism. Sensory-seeking behaviors are one example of this. When someone purposefully seeks out sensory input via smell, touch, taste, sight, or sound, this is known as sensory seeking.
These acts may be relaxing and useful at times. They may, however, be bothersome to the individual at other times. It may be simpler to concentrate on other things, manage day-to-day activities, and better control emotions if these habits are addressed front on.
Sensory-Seeking Behaviors to Recognize
Sensory-seeking behaviors are efforts to get input from the environment, usually as a result of a sensory processing problem. It may affect any of the five senses and is often the consequence of either hypo-sensitivity (underactivity) or hypersensitivity (overactivity) (overreactive).
The following are examples of these behaviors:
- Hand flapping, head thumping, finger tapping, bouncing up and down, or rocking back and forth are all examples of irregular bodily motions.
- Chewing on things that aren’t food is a bad habit to get into.
- Putting pressure on or squeezing physical parts
- Keeping a close eye on something over an extended length of time
- Sniffing around
- Aversions to certain foods
- Covering eyes or ears, or avoiding specific noises, scents, or textures are examples of sensory avoidance.
Because it may be difficult to comprehend and absorb information from the environment, sensory processing difficulties often lead to sensory-seeking behaviors. Behavior issues, meltdowns, angry outbursts, self-harming behaviors, anxiety, difficulty concentrating on activities, and despair may all result from this.
Sensory-seeking activities are often an effort to soothe a nervous system that is hyperactive or stimulated. They may cause problems with day-to-day functioning as well as attention difficulties.
The Connection Between Sensory Issues & Autism
Sensory processing difficulties, which might include sensory-seeking behaviors, affect more than half of persons with autism. This might be linked to brain function and connection, as well as how the brain and body interpret environmental data.
Sensory-seeking activities are often the result of an effort to self-regulate the central nervous system in persons with autism.
When these habits interfere with one’s capacity to focus and handle everyday chores and functions, they may become troublesome. Sensory-seeking activities that are harmful to oneself or others should also be addressed. However, sensory-seeking behaviors aren’t always negative. They may help autistic children express themselves and engage with the world around them.
Managing Children’s Sensory-Seeking Behaviors
When it comes to sensory-seeking behaviors, the first thing you should do as a parent is monitor your kid to better understand what they are and what could be causing them. If your kid is overstimulated by loud sounds or crowded surroundings, they may cover their eyes or ears, rock back and forth, or engage in other reactionary behaviors in an attempt to calm down.
You may select how to treat sensory-seeking behaviors after you’ve understood what they are and what could be causing them. There will not be a single recognizable cause for all sensory-seeking activities; they will occur at random intervals.
You may assist manage sensory-seeking behaviors by deciding what is and is not suitable. Are the activities, for example, causing damage to others or interfering with everyday duties, social opportunities, or learning? You can put up techniques to control behaviors after you know which ones need to be managed.
Parents’ Action Plan
Interventions for sensory-seeking behaviors may be handled in a variety of ways. To assist manage these habits, you may create modifications at home.
Occupational therapy may also help with strategy development. Sensory-based therapies and sensory integration strategies may be used by occupational therapists to assist relax the central nervous system and improve levels of functioning.
At home, here are some strategies for dealing with sensory-seeking behaviors:
- To assist mitigate overstimulation of the senses, environmental accommodations might include reducing the lights, utilizing noise-canceling headphones, or wearing a cap or sunglasses.
- Jumping, rocking, or swinging are examples of vestibular movement and input, which is frequently soothing to toddlers seeking sensory input. Indoor and outdoor swings, rocking rockers, and swinging bars may all help with this kind of activity.
- Deep-pressure and/or tactile input: Squishy balls, lap pads, and weighted blankets may all help youngsters relax.Sitting on a yoga ball to bounce while working may be beneficial for children with autism and sensory-seeking behaviors. They could use a weighted lap cushion or blanket to offer sensory stimulation so they can concentrate on other things.
Setting up a “crash pad,” or an area with mats, cushions, bean bags, or mattresses that a kid may safely bounce into to get the sensory input they need in a secure atmosphere, can also be beneficial.
- Climbing and weight-bearing activities, also known as proprioceptive input, may provide the body with the feedback that sensory-seeking behaviors want. Balance and coordination challenges might assist to concentrate the mind and calm an overactive nervous system.
- Sensory diet: A sensory diet allows you to engage in sensory-seeking activities that are both acceptable and safe, as well as give variety. An occupational therapist usually prescribes this, which involves particular exercises as part of a structured program to treat sensory processing issues at home.
Setting aside certain periods for sensory exercises might help the youngster understand what to anticipate and when to expect it. It is frequently simpler for a youngster to attention to a task or interact properly if they engage in these activities before being asked to concentrate.
Adult Sensory-Seeking Behaviors
Adults who participate in sensory-seeking activities must be mindful of their actions. Knowing what sensory-seeking behaviors are, why they occur, and how to assist manage them effectively is important for the adult and others around them.
Once again, safety comes first. Sensory-seeking activities that result in self-injury, property destruction, or harm to others must be handled as soon as possible.
Adults seeking sensations might benefit from lap cushions, weighted blankets, and tactile items to help them relax and concentrate. Modifications to the environment are also beneficial.
Occupational therapy and a sensory diet can be beneficial to manage Adult Sensory-Seeking Behaviors. Skills training and therapy sessions can also teach coping mechanisms and tools for improving daily life functioning while helping to process sensory input.
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.