Sensory Issues – How Do They Affect You or Your Child?

Sensory issues are often a bi-product of having Autism, an unfortunate little tag along issue that many Autistic people get to tack onto the rather large list of issues they already endure. They come in all shapes and sizes as well, much like the rest of Autisms little gems, some people can’t handle loud noise, bright lights, strong tastes… some simply can’t handle multiple sounds, flickering lights or any taste at all.

In our case, Cameron has a problem with loud noises and food textures. If we put on a movie too loud, or turn up the music, he’s the first to speak up about it being too loud. That’s not too much of a problem, we can keep it quiet… but it does mean things can be a challenge such as taking him to see a movie at the theatre.

The big issue comes from his food texture problem… there’s literally only a handful of foods that he will eat. He’s never eaten meat, except what we can grind up and hide in his food. He’s never eaten any fast food, refuses to even try french fries and doesn’t want to eat most vegetables. The only fruit he likes is bananas and won’t eat berries or nuts either.

Luckily, my wife is very creative and is very good at finding the foods that make up for these things, such as eggs, bananas, peanut butter and beans. These foods alone make up for almost all of what he’s missing and we can find ways to make up the rest… and we pad it with mashed potatoes and rice pasta, which he really likes.

But imagine, no gluten (wheat) and no casein (milk) and then take all meats (including fish and chicken) and almost all veggies… what’s left??

Quite literally, we find ourselves deciding on which of the 4 meals he’ll have for each meal… because that’s what it boils down to. We were quite concerned at first but after visiting a child nutrition expert and having all his blood levels tested, he’s doing just fine.

Sight and touch and other things seem to be right on par, or pretty close. It’s just the pesky food texture thing that drives us wild.

I’ve talked to a lot of other parents however that have other issues, such as having children that must wear special head phones to tone down the sound levels, or some that wear tinted glasses and even some where they virtually never touch their child.

On one hand, I curse this stupid Autism for already making life hard enough and then having to tack on something so dumb as this, just to make things more inconvenient… on the other hand, I kinda think it’s like having a super power, like Wolverine (xmen comics) where he has a heightened sense of smell, taste and hearing.. like an animal. Maybe my boy will grow up to be a super hero? taste texture man??  Uhmm… anyway…

If your child has not been diagnosed with Autism but has these types of sensory overloads that seem almost painful for them, definitely get them checked. It might not even be Autism as there are simply conditions dealing with sensory processing and sensory integration disorders.

Most importantly, I implore you, if your child can’t stand the lights, the sounds, the taste, the feel of something… it may seem trivial, or even stupid and you will likely feel compelled to just have your child deal with it… but it could be something so much more than that and you could be causing them real pain/discomfort. If you pushed them through something and found out later that it was a real issue, you’d probably feel pretty bad… it’s better to listen to your children and at least check and be sure.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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2 Responses to Sensory Issues – How Do They Affect You or Your Child?

  1. Mark Vice June 12, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    Great post!

  2. Rose Wade June 13, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    Stuart,

    Great blog post. My son, Matthew, also has issues with food. When he was a toddler, we had no problems getting him to eat, or at least try, whatever we offered.

    When he was old enough for solid food, my husband would often give Matthew beef broccoli. Matthew loved it, the rice, the beef, the broccoli. But, I noticed at about the same time the symptoms of Autism appeared, the number of foods he would eat decreased.

    Matthew stopped eating the beef, then the broccoli. Rice is still a favorite of his. It’s one of the very limited foods her’ll eat: Chicken tenders, or roast chicken, sticky rice, not instant, cheese pizza, Lucky Charms cereal, hot chocolate, colby-jack cheese, Hawaiian bread, eggs, and peanut butter granola bars. That’s about it.

    Sound is also an issue. He’s quite the talker himself, and a bit loud. But if noises, or people are too loud, he’ll cover his ears and ask to go home.

    There are a lot of little triggers that seem to bother him. We do what we can do work around them.

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