The Basics of AutismSpectrum Disorders Training Series Regional Autism Advisory Council of Southwest Ohio (RAAC SWO) (RAAC-SWO) Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders Task Force
Adult Training Series Modules M d lModule One: Autism Defined, Autism Prevalenceand Primary CharacteristicsModule Two: Physical Characteristics of AutismModule Three Cognition and Learning in Autism Three:Module Four: Autism and Sensory DifferencesModule Five: Communication and Autism
Adult Training Series ModulesModule Six: Behavior Challenges and AutismModule Seven: Understanding Behavior in Personswith AutismModule Eight: Functional Behavior AssessmentModule N d l Nine: Autism and Leisure Skills to Teach dL k ll hModule Ten: Special Issues of Adolescence andAdulthoodAd lth dModule Eleven: Safety and Autism
Autism and Sensory Differences ffThe brain needs sensory information to operate. y f pIt needs sound, vision, smell, taste, touch andmovement.The way our brain organizes this informationaffects the way we learn and our behavior.People with ASD usually have differences in howthey react to sensory input. They can be:Sensory Seekers Sensory Avoiders
Autism and Sensory DifferencesPossible difficulty with one or all sensory systems systems.A person’s reaction is not always the same. They canover react at one time and und react at another. v ct t n tim nd under ct t n thBe a detective to figure out the reason for thereaction (ex. avoiding a certain food could b h ti ( x idi t i f d ld be howthe food feels, looks, smells, tastes or sounds whenchewing).
Big Bi IdeaSuspect s sS s t sensory diffi lti s when difficulties hthe person’s behaviors seem“illogical” or “extreme”.
Reactions to SoundsPuts hands over earsTries to escape from noisesBecomes upset by sirens or other loud noisesHears sounds you do not even notice like buzz from a light. OrMakes sounds, like humming, to block out other soundsSeeks noisesDoes not respond to certain sounds or their name being called
Strategies for Sound SensitivityTalk more softly and slow down.Use short direct sentences and do not chatter on and on on.Don’t repeat what you just said, give time to think it through.Use soft music or other “good” sounds to block out “bad” sound(consider some thing like an iPOD).Have a quiet place where the person with ASD can go go.Have sound blocking headphones available in places where youcan’t avoid stressful sounds.
Strategies for Sound SensitivityKnow that unexpected sounds can be frightening.Be aware of crowd sounds For example you may need to sounds. example,help the person be ready for applause or help them moveto a quieter area.Be aware of acoustics that may be irritating (theaters,gyms, churches, cafeterias). Make plans for possiblebehavior problems in these settings.Be ready in case an individual bolts from distressingsounds. Be prepared for dangerous situations such as p p gtraffic.
Big Bi IdeaPrepare the person for what is going to happen. Anythingunexpected is more likely to be negative or scary.
Reactions to Visual InputPerson with ASD may look off to the side.May be upset around bright lights or sunshine.May be upset around fluorescent lighting.May be upset in busy or cluttered places. OrMay stare at bright lights or moving objects like fans.May seek bright colors and movement.May finger flick or spin objects in front of eyes.
Strategies for Visual SensitivityAllow the person with ASD to use peripheralvision (look out the corner of their eyes).Do not insist on eye contact, but do requirethe person to look in your direction.Keep the environment as neutral as needed ifthe person gets over-stimulated. Consider p gkeeping one wall or area more plain.
Strategies for Visual SensitivityIf possible, do not use fluorescent lights.Do not hold instructional materials close to yourface.face It may be difficult for the person withASD to concentrate on two things at the sametime.For those seeking visual input, look forappropriate activities (i.e. kaleidoscope, fish pp p ( p ,tank).
Strategies for Visual g SeekersProvide visually interesting materials forleisure time time.Use visual schedules, calendars and listsUse photo albums to talk about family orpast events
Reactions to SmellsAvoids cooking smells.Gets upset around noticeable smells, such as cleaningsmells.Breathes through mouth.Covers nose. OrSeeks strong aromas.Sniffs objects and people.Holds things up to nose.
Reactions to SmellsFor a person with a strong reaction to smells, anyenvironment can be too much.Smells may be the cause of behaviors.Human odors may be a problem. The person may beuncomfortable with the smell of their own urine andbowel movements. This may explain why someindividuals put off going to the bathroom as long aspossible.
Reactions to SmellsWhat is a good smell to one person can be anunpleasant smell for another person.Strong food smells may affect behavior.Certain petroleum products such as diesel enginesmay cause problems.Cleaning odors room deodorizers, scented lotions or odors, deodorizerssoaps can all change behavior.
Reactions to SmellsPeople with ASD may continue to be bothered bythe smell after others would have gotten used totheth smell and no longer be bothered. ll d l b b th dThis may be why changing environments is sodifficult fordiffi lt f some i di id l with ASD individuals ith ASD.
Strategies for Smell g SensitivityTry not to use scented products.Keep the environment clean and dry.K h l ddIf something smells bad to us, it is likely that itsmells even worse to the person with ASD. ll h h
Strategies for a Smell SensitivityIf you smell something unpleasant, let the personknow that you smell it too. It may be reassuring forthe individual to know that they aren’t the only oneaffected by the odor.Sometimes you can cover up an unavoidable badsmell with a positive smell on a handkerchief or witha food item such as a tic tac.
Strategies for a Smell g f SeekerSome people may seek smells. For them a variety ofS l k ll F th i t fscents may be helpful. Examples: lotions, spices, airfresheners.Scents can be used to help people with ASD be morealert or calm down.A good scent can be added to an activity such asscented markers or pencils when drawing. p g
Reactions to TasteThe person with ASD eats only a few kinds of food. p yThey may prefer bland foods.TheyTh may prefer keeping foods separated not mixed. f k i f ds s t d t i dTherefore they may not like food such as casseroles. OrThey may prefer strong flavors and spices.They may like to dip food in sauces.They may lick or chew non-food items.
Strategies for Sensitivity to TasteTry to know what foods that the person likes.Don tDon’t force the person to eat food they do not like like.Offer a variety of foods.Think about how smells in the room may make it hardto eat, even if the food tastes okay.
Strategies for a Taste g SeekerKnow what spices and sauces can be used to increaseK h t i d b dt itaste.Think bThi k about the texture or temperature of favorite h ff ifoods (for example-crunchy, cold, hot).Watch hW h what the person puts into their mouth for h i h i hfsafety and cleanliness.Sometimes a person with ASD cannot tell when food h D ll h f dis too hot. Make sure food or drink is not too hot.
Reactions to TouchThe person with ASD may not like to be touched touched.They may strike out or withdraw when touched unexpectedly.They may have problems with hair cuts combing hair. cuts, hairThey may dislike getting hands dirty. Or OrThe person with ASD may not feel pain easily.TheyTh may seek out rough surfaces. k t h fThey may put non-food items in their mouth or lick them.
Strategies for Sensitivity to TouchGive the person space.Don’t touch the person without warning them thatyou are going to touch them.Firm but gentle touch is often better than lighttouch.
Strategies for Sensitivity to g y TouchNever tickle the person with ASD, even if theylaugh.l hIt may be helpful to wash new clothes before theywear them to make the clothes softer softer.Be aware that problems can be caused by new shoes,textured socks or tags in clothes. socks, clothes
Reactions to MovementTheTh person with ASD may be scared when balance is ith b d h b l ineeded, like going down stairs or when walking onuneven ground. gThey may avoid physical activity, preferring to sit. Or OrThe person may jump, bounce, pace, rock, twirl.They may be more active than others.
Strategies for Movement g SensitivityLet the person know that you understand it is scaryand you are there to help.Give extra support if needed.If possible, do not push the person with ASD to try p p p ysomething when they are afraid. You may need topractice the activity with them when they are calm.Expect the person to run off if you are putting theminto a situation that is scary to them.
Big Idea Offer a variety of sensoryexperiences but do not force the person to participate if th t ti i t theperson is uncomfortable or seems afraid.
Strategies for a Movement g SeekerProvide opportunities for the person with ASD to move pp paround, clearing space in living areas as needed.Give movement breaks during a task.Choose chores that give movement and physical work aspart of the task.Provide opportunities for exercise with an understandingof any physical limitations.Challenging behaviors can happen if the person is notgetting enough movement.
Big Bi IdeaPrepare the person for what isP th s f h t going to happen. Anythingunexpected is more likely to be negative or scary. g y