What does sensory autism mean? Sensory disorder is commonly associated with autism. But, it is important to know that sensory and autism are not the same thing. In addition, sensory autism is not a type of autism.
This article explains more about sensory and autism. In particular, how they overlap. It is important to understand why sensory links with autism. Notwithstanding, how they are different.
In health care and medicine, autism is a developmental disorder. A developmental disorder presents from early childhood. Moreover, it presents even in babies. Developmental, is this context, means how a person grows or develops. In addition, disorder means there is a set of problems that cause difficulty in daily life. Therefore, a developmental disorder is one that is present from a young age. It also causes lifelong difficulties in daily life.
Autism is present from a young age. However, signs and symptoms may not initially be visual. They emerge as a baby grows. Autism is also life-long. Hence, it is not something a child ‘grows out of’. Moreover, autism causes difficulties in daily life. Specifically, one of those difficulties can be with the senses. Thus, you see and hear the words sensory autism.
Autism is confusing. There is a lot to learn. Furthermore, the words that describe autism are now changed. This is because we learn more about autism in health and medicine every day. Importantly, autistic people share words that are meaningful. And how they describe themselves. For example, with the word neurodiversity. People with autism are neurodiverse. Neuro means brain. Diverse means different. So neurodiverse means different brains. Moreover, people with autism often describe people who do not have autism or another developmental disorder as neurotypical.
Autism causes difficulties with social communication and social interaction. For example, social means relating to other people. In addition, people with autism may have difficulty relating to other people. This includes verbal communication. It also includes non-verbal communication with other people. Finally, they may have difficulty to understand and to be understood by other people.
You may have seen and heard the term non-verbal autism. For some people with autism, they are non-verbal. In this instance, it means they do not speak or they speak very little. This does not mean they do not understand.
On the other hand for some people with autism, their speech is delayed. That does not mean they are non-verbal. However, it means they develop the ability to speak later than other children.
Non-verbal autism is not a type of autism. It describes people with autism who do not communicate by speech. Nonetheless, that does not mean they do not understand. Critically, people with non-verbal autism may understand everything. Furthermore, it does not mean they do not communicate. For example, they may use a different way of communicating. Like sign language. Other examples are a picture exchange communication system. Typing on a keyboard. Writing. Text-to-speech software. Or a special mobile app.
Autism also causes difficulty with behavior, interests, and activities. Subsequently, this affects how a person with autism acts. Especially how they act with other people. For example, you might see or hear the words autistic behavior. Meaning people with autism may behave differently. Moreover, people with autism may have difficulty with a change in routine. For instance, they may repeat things or repetitive tasks. In addition, they may be pre-occupied with certain things or topics. Finally, they may have sensory issues. The latter is why you see or hear things about sensory autism.
Symptoms of autism range in severity. Furthermore, some people with autism have more difficulty with some aspects of daily life. On the other hand, some people have less difficulty. In conclusion, every person with autism is unique. Just like everyone else.
Autism used to be divided into different types. However, autism is now called autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, all the types are together. Autism and autism spectrum disorder are used interchangeably. Spectrum means that there is a range. Again, some people are more affected by autism. On the other hand, some people are less affected by autism. Although people with autism have many things in common too. Moreover, just like everyone else, each person with autism is unique.
Autism used to be divided into different types: autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and childhood disintegrative disorder. Now, they are grouped together into autism spectrum disorder.
To help with all of the vocabularies that you might see and hear, these are many of the words used in the past to describe autism
Is Rett’s Disorder related to autism? No, it is not. It was grouped with autism in the past. But no longer. Therefore, Rett’s Disorder is separate and distinct from autism.
There are no longer types of autism. Furthermore, sensory autism was never one of the types. Autism is a range, called a spectrum disorder. Nonetheless, it is important to know that sensory differences are often part of autism. In fact, the diagnostic criteria for autism include mention of two sensory impairments. Specifically, hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity. However, not all people with autism have one of these two types of sensory issues. In addition, sensory issues are more complex than just these two. So, let’s dive into sensory autism.
As with autism, there are many different words to describe sensory. Furthermore, there are more than five senses. Those five senses are what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. However, you have more than five senses. You sense of movement (called proprioception). In addition, your sense of balance (called your vestibular sense). Finally, you have the eighth sense, interoception. Interoception is your sense of internal organs. Examples are hunger, thirst, or the need to go to the bathroom.
Find sensory-friendly events, places, and services in your daily life in the Sensory-Friendly Finder.
Looking for more information and resources to help your child with autism or sensory challenges? Sign up for our Sensory Friendly Children newsletter.
Christel Seeberger worked as an occupational therapist for more than 25 years helping people with sensory sensitivity who experience sensory overload. Christel has sensory sensitivity herself; she has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. She founded Sensory Friendly Solutions in 2016. Sensory Friendly Solutions brings together people around the world looking for sensory friendly living and businesses and organizations who offer sensory friendly experiences.