Sensory issues are probably, hands down that most frustrating part of being an Autism parent, at least for me. For those unfamiliar with what I’m referring to when I say sensory issues, let me explain.
Sensory processing disorder is a condition that is very common is both kids and adults with Autism. What happens is their brains don’t properly interpret Sensory input correctly and this can be very problematic for them.
While adults are impacted as well by sensory processing disorder, in this post, I’m specifically referring to kids because that’s where my experience lies. Please don’t take that as anything else.
Kids with sensory processing disorder are hypersensitive to things like color, sight, sound, light, taste, texture, smells and especially touch. How these sensitivities impact their lives can and will vary but there are commonalities.
Basically what happens is, kids with SPD will experience all sensory stimulus simultaneously and in amounts that compete overwhelm their ability to cope. Most people are able to filter out external stimulus that is problematic but for kids with SPD, they simply can’t.
Some of the common examples I hear from people are that they can hear the clock tic, lights hum and people writing with pencils around them. Mind you, they are just aware of these things, they are bombarded by them. It is quite often painful and leads to overstimulation. That will later give birth to a meltdown, which is the bodies way purging all the stress and anxiety built up over a period of time.
I speak only to my personal experience with my kids, but keep in mind that not all kids will experience things like this the same way. Likewise, how this impacts families will vary as well. Having said that, it’s widely accepted that sensory processing disorder is a truly horrible experience for kids to deal with on a daily basis.
All three of my little dudes are very sensory sensitive but not all to the same things and that presents many challenges.
There are two areas that my kids struggle with the most. These struggles impact them on a daily basis and affect the rest of us on daily basis as well. Sensory processing disorder commonly manifests itself in extreme difficulty with food consumption. Both Elliott and Emmett are extremely when it comes to eating.
Things like food color, smell, taste, texture, visual presentation, physical packaging, imperfections in the food, or different food items on the same plate, will more often than not lead to them refusing to eat.
It’s important to understand that these kids are not just picky eaters and this is outside of their control.
Imagine the vilest thing you can even fathom eating. Something that makes you sick to your stomach just thinking about. Something that you wouldn’t even consider ingesting, even if you were starving. Now multiply that by a million and you get a glimpse into what this is like for a kid with SPD to eat anything that is perceived to be sensory offensive.