Autism and a Changing Sensory System is one of the dozens of articles that I have been saving for review. Unfortunately, I seem to be adding them more quickly than I am reviewing them.
But this one definitely drew my attention because as author Judy Endow says…most people do not realize that sensory needs change over time.
That is how we have gone from running a tub full of water three or four times per day so that PanKwake can self-soothe…to bath/shower refusal. With the only time she showers is at the pool.
I had thought that was because of the changes in her body as she approaches her teens. And I had tried to address it as such. Then one day I did something shocking…
I asked my #HappilyAutistic child…WHY!
She gladly told me that the feel of water on her skin was uncomfortable. When I probed deeper about the pool, she explained that she can handle it better then because there is so much happening, so much to do that she does not focus on it as much. Fair enough. I understand now…and respect her needs better.
But beyond just recognizing that sensory needs change over time, Endow makes this point as well…
When youngsters get sensory evaluations that result in sensory diet recommendations that are actively utilized in daily life they become better regulated. This results in more engagement, increased learning and a happier child. However, over time, implementing the very same sensory regulating strategies doesn’t keep on delivering the same results.
Of course, that is not a problem when you utilize self-soothing as opposed to a specific diet. At #HomeCrazzyHome we have a collection of sensory toys that is ever growing. While we might occasionally encourage PanKwake to use something to calm herself, the choice of what…and even when…remains hers. In that way, she can ‘feed herself’ rather than some ‘diet’ imposed upon her.
One thing that this blog/article does not bring up is something that I was reminded of at yesterday’s party.
Does sensory overload get worse as you get older?
This was the general gist of a thread on NeuroRebel’s Twitter feed for #ActuallyAutistic a few weeks ago. Given that PanKwake now hates going back to the sounds and smells of London…though she had sort of tolerated them for ten years of her life… The change in her preference of bathing… Then yesterday, she refused to wear a Halloween costume to her own party!
Mind you, Halloween costumes have been a BIG deal with this one for years. And even if it was scratchy, itchy, stiff…something she would NEVER wear otherwise…Halloween was different. But perhaps not now?
Of course, the best part of this article was the reminder to BE KIND…to yourself and your needs…or to others and theirs.
Being kind and allowing self-soothing/modulation of sensory needs rather than creating and imposing diets builds self-confidence in our #HappilyAutistic and #ProudlyPDA little humans. And the big humans too.