Autism Spectrum Australia

Sensory processing difficulties

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 hyper-sensitivity 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 exhausted 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. A description of how to use this form and the template are included in the document via this link.

Aspect Practice ‘making sense of senses’ newsletter 

To download Aspect Practice ‘Making sense of senses’ Focus newsletter, click here. The newsletter invites you to connect with us across social media and has a list of takeaway resources about sensory processing difficulties.

To view our past Focus newsletters, click here.

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)

"It's a sensory thing."

Sensory Processing Webinar by Caroline Mills, Occupational Therapist

Sensory processing difficulties