Sensory Processing difficulties are sometimes called Sensory Processing differences (SPD) You do not grow out of (SPD)
Sensory Processing refers to the way the nervous system receives the information and turns it into a motor, behaviour responses. (SPD) happens when sensory signals are either not detected or the signals don’t get organised into the correct responses. (Ayres PhD) says it like a neurological “traffic jam” this stops certain parts of the information being received.
Some people will only have one sense affected- for example touch could be that sense however, multiple and all senses can be affected in one person, and often are. (SPD) can make the person over respond to stimuli and or under respond. So for example the person who is over responsive the lightest touch on their arm could feel extremely painful, and the under responsive person will not feel light touch at all. As you can imagine this can be very difficult for the person to manage, on a daily basis.
There are eight sensory systems;
The first five basic sensory systems most people know of and understand them, but there are three more that most people have not heard of ;
6. Vestibular (sense of head space and movement, balance, orientation)
7. proprioceptive (sensations from muscles and joints of the body)
8. Interoception (physiological, physical conditions of the body, hunger, heart rate ect.)
All eight sensory systems can be affected from (SPD) this will have an impact on the person’s ability to cope with environments, and situations that have an impact on the senses. (which is basically everything that we do)
I personally think (SPD) can cause and drive anxiety, as the sensory system has an impact on emotions. Environments that cause sensory difficulties will also cause anxiety, as the person will feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed, this can lead to sensory overload, meltdown.
what is Sensory overload, meltdown?
This is when an environment that is crowded has mass media, the situation is to much for the person to process, the sensory system is sent multiple messages and system becomes totally overloaded.
The person might respond by;
1. Covers eyes and ears
2. “Shut’s down” won’t communicate or respond
3. Becomes over excited can’t calm down
4. Agitated, nervous
5. Crying, shouting, very distressed
This situation is totally out of the person’s control it has nothing to do with behaviour, the sensory system is not responding correctly and causing this reaction.
Please never force Autistics or any person with sensory issues to stay in situation that has overloaded their sensory system, this is damaging, and total unexpectable. This person is in pain and needs to get out of this situation as soon as possible. How to recover from sensory overload is a very personal thing, my daughter for instance needs total silence in a dark room. The recovery time is also a personal thing, please give the person as much time as they need. When you interact with the person, or start any kind of interaction communication happens. Their sensory system will then be sent information, doing this to fast can lead to the onset of another sensory overload, meltdown.
Sensory processing difficulties do not just go away one day! Autistic adults experience all of these difficulties. Please keep in mind anyone who has difficulties with their sensory system is not wanting to experience this, so show some kindness and understanding.
Girls Autistic Journey ♥