Sensory Processing and Communication are among the biggest concerns in helping a child with autism. Oftentimes parents don’t know where to go or how to help. It is important to learn about these areas in order to tailor programs and interventions to your child’s needs.
The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation describes sensory processing as “the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses.” Sensory Processing Disorder is when those sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information coming in through the sense, which creates challenges in everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, and school failure are just some of the ways SPD may impact a child.
Sensory processing may affect a child in just one sense or in multiple senses. A child may over-respond to a sensation and find certain things unbearable. Or a child might under-respond to a sensation and show little or no reaction to stimulation such as pain or extreme temperatures.
Children with sensory processing challenges may benefit from a treatment program of occupational therapy (OT) with a sensory integration (SI) approach.
Many children also have challenges in their communication. Communication may include things such as facial expressions, gesture, body movements, object use, sounds, point and pulling, speech and signing. There are three areas of communication: form, content and use. Form is the ability to formulate or produce components of language. Content is like comprehension or the ability to understand communication and utilize the messages in daily living. Use or pragmatics is the ability to use language functionally and purposefully in daily living. A child who is struggling to communicate may benefit from Speech and Language Therapy focusing on both speech and production components as well as the comprehension and communicate intent of language.