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The prevalence that sensory processing difficulties has among people on the autism spectrum is from 45 to 96%, according to Schaaf RC, Lane AE. These sensory processing difficulties can include hypersensitivity to odours, over-responsiveness to taste and textures of foods, smells, touch, loud noises, bright lights and even sensitivity to bright sunlight when outside.

However, this is not an exhaustive list and for those that experience sensory processing difficulties they can be different from person to person with various environmental factors triggering them.

For people on the spectrum who do experience these sensory challenges and their parents/carers and families, it can have a range of impacts on everyday life at home, school, work, in social groups and community settings. These impacts can also affect participation, resulting in social exclusion.

To delve further into sensory processing difficulties, the Aspect Practice newsletter, ‘Making sense of senses’, heard from three different points of view to gain a better understanding of how sensitivities can impact people on the spectrum and what strategies can be used to support them. The three different views are:

  • From the perspective of two people on the autism spectrum that experience sensory processing difficulties, Jarred and Daniel and a parent, Jarred’s mother Cathie
  • From a professional in the autism field, Dr Jill Ashburner of Autism Queensland, about the framework she and her colleagues have developed to guide good practice sensory supports
  • From an Occupational Therapist, Caroline Mills of Aspect, to delve into how Aspect supports people on the spectrum and their families to increase participation for those who experience sensory processing difficulties and find out about her research in the field

Aspect has developed a simplified sensory assessment and planning template.

Interactive Module

Aspect & Positive Partnerships have collaborated to develop an on-line interactive Sensory Processing module for parents/carer's and educators wanting to strengthen their understanding of sensory processing.

Key features include:

Learning how to identify the unique sensory profile of an individual
Getting access to strategies and tools that can support individuals to manage their own sensory style and meet their sensory needs
Video stories from individuals and families sharing their personal sensory experiences

It is free to use (but you have to register to access)