Some students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have definite sensory processing differences which can interfere with learning and cause fluctuations in attention and behaviour.
Specifically students with ASD may have difficulties with:
- over-registration of sensory information (such as reactions to sounds, smells, touch, and over focusing on insignificant sensory input minimising the ability to attend to the teacher)
- under-registration of sensory information (such as failing to notice others talking to them, being under-responsive to sensations of pain or temperature)
- seeking sensory input more than their same-aged peers (such as twirling or tapping objects, repetitive movements and questioning and looking for small places to climb into).
Sensory processing differences may present as barriers to learning for some students in the following ways:
- definite sensitivity to specific sounds, smells, touch and movement
- easily distracted by or seeking out specific sounds, smells, sights, touch and movements
- motor awkwardness or an unusual gait
- poor muscle tone
- poor fine motor skills
- difficulties hearing or tuning into verbal instructions
- fluctuations in resilience or the ability to cope with specific activities, interactions or challenges due to being overwhelmed by sensory input
- difficulties with posture and endurance and associated handwriting and sitting difficulties
- extreme variations in sensory preferences or sensory registration
- difficulties consistently integrating information coming from the senses
- an excessive need for sensory input such as finding it difficult to sit still or keep their hands or feet still
- repetitive sensory actions such as rocking, twirling, repetitive questioning
- an avoidance of specific activities due to the sensory component such as avoiding the toilet area because of the smell or bright lights; avoiding lining up because of the bumping, or avoiding assembly because of the unpredictable noise and movement
- a preference for visual and kinaesthetic learning and difficulties processing verbal information consistently or for sustained periods
- unusual sleep and eating patterns that may influence behaviour.