Making Sense of Autism Workshops
Autism Network International
Sensory Integration and Autism
Assistive Technology and Autism
Making Sense of the World From a Different Perspective
Despite what teachers persist in teaching, humans have seven senses, not five. We are all aware of the five senses (vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) that alert, excite, sooth, satisfy, irritate, and inform us about the world around us. It is our internal body senses however that enable us to interact with our environment in a controlled and purposeful manner, thus making sense of the input we take in from our external senses.
Imagine seeing and smelling a fresh-baked apple pie placed in front of you, but not being able to plan or execute how to reach out, pick up a fork, and get it to your mouth to taste it? If you were getting inadequate input through your sense of balance and ability to hold a posture against the pull of gravity, you would fall flat on your face in the pie every time you leaned forward to pick up the utensil. If you received limited input to your muscles and joints (as you do when your arm or leg "falls asleep", you most likely, due to poor coordination, would lose food off the fork on the way up and end up poking yourself in the nose despite your intent to end up with it in your mouth... that is if you could maintain your grasp on the fork due to poor tactile "feel" of the fork in your hand. If you were lucky enough to get it to your mouth without falling down, it is quite likely that you would end up choking on the pie as it slides down your throat because of the inadequate tactile input in your mouth that helps you know where the food is as you attempt to chew and swallow it. All that for one bite of pie!
The body senses are just as important, if not more, to one's ability to function, much less enjoy ones experiences, in the world. Sensory Integration Dysfunction, very common in those on the spectrum, can make routine, daily events extremely difficult. In order to compensate for the poor sensory input and feedback that makes life easy, the individual with Sensory Integration Dysfunction needs to "think" their way through tasks that would be easy and automatic for the rest of us. That is extremely fatiguing. No wonder so many of those on the spectrum are exhausted, or "crash", so much! Sensory processing challenges are only the beginning of the challenges experienced by those on the spectrum. Below are some areas of the brain that researchers feel are not functioning in the same way that the neurologically-typical brain functions. Soon I will add some of the bio-chemical differences that can make life even more difficult to cope with for those on the spectrum.