Tag Archives: proprioceptive

Why some children with autism may hate the 5th November

26 Oct

It’s almost here, the one night of the year that has my son crawling around on the floor like a solider in combat. 

The 5th of November is bonfire night and as much as Little man likes watching the fireworks at a distance from the safety and comfort of the living room window, it’s a whole different ball game when outside.


In a way I’m extremely thankful that we know it’s on the way so we can therefore avoid being outside on that evening. However I’ve noticed that the fireworks are already lighting up our skies. 

That’s when It’s most difficult, when he doesn’t expect it. He will flip out and quite literally drop down to the ground. It’s not only the loud whistling, sizzling & loud bangs that frighten him, his also frighten that they are falling from the sky on top of him.

Again I think that much of this comes as a result of his sensory processing, the way in which his senses work. His also got a fear of tall buildings fearing that they will fall and flatten him. I remember speaking to the occupational therapist about this issue who confirmed that it was is in-fact something to do with his sensory processing! It actually has a name which is “Proprioceptive Dysfunction” 

Let me explain a little… We all have a range of senses and one of these sense is our proprioceptive sense which works by feeding the brain information that tells us about movement, and where our body position is in space.

When we received Little man’s OT report it was clear that he had difficulties within all his senses which in some ways made me feel quite sad. 

Well, if your child has difficulties in the sense his Proprioceptive sense isn’t processing as it should be then they will likely experience the difficulties that Little man does. He states that looking at tall building makes his head spin and everything moves around him making him feel that his feet are no longer on the ground. This kinda leads me to believe that when Little man looks up at the fireworks directly above him in the sky, as they explode and drop lower he becomes confused and is unable to sense how near or far the firework actually is.

The above combined with the loudness of a fire display is enough to send him crazy. 

Note: Little man loves sparklers and will happily hold one, this is also confirmation that yes, his fear in fireworks are a sensory problem.

I remember at the beginning of the year, I was out with the children shopping then we met up with a friend to grab something to eat. It was a freezing evening in January so nowhere near November. Can you imagine his horror as we stepped out the restaurant and onto the street where the sky suddenly turned into a mass of beautiful golds and pink as a spectacular fireworks display took affect above. We were already on route to my friends card who was parked a good five minutes up the world. The shops in the high-street were now closed and the restaurant was now way back in the distance! With no place to run he did what he does best in such a situation, he drops. My son is no “tiny little man” believe me his grown. He was ten at the time, far to big to pick up, throw over my shoulder and make a running bid for the car. Like I guessed Little man refused point-blank to get up from the ground and proceeded to crawl instead. 

Can you imagine the looks on the faces of those passing by, some people really are rude sometimes when they point and stare, (is it entertaining seeing a child in distress)? 

My friend ran for the car which we finally got him in, but my goodness it was extremely stressful for him and a memory that will stick with me forever more.

Yesterday fireworks began going off right outside the living room widow. Little man ran towards the window where he stayed and enjoyed the show in till they had disappeared. He then turned and said to me, “Lucky we weren’t outside mum” 

We have been to a few well organised public displays but always get the same result. 

This year I think we will stay indoors, grab some toffee apples and lemonade and put some comfy cushions up at the living room window. 

Lets just hope we are not caught unaware in the run up to the big night. 

The NAS have created a list of tips for bonfire night aimed at families with children with autism

 This can be found by clicking HERE  

If anyone has any tips of their own, do please let us know in a comment. 

Getting to grips with the seven senses

11 Feb

Have you ever found that something caused you such annoyance that the stressfulness of the situation forces you to stay away, avoiding the source of stress at all cost?

What about if something caused you pain and discomfort would you avoid the source inorder to gain control, be free from the pain, living your life in the most prosperous way you could?

Imagine if the most common stimuli… sounds, smells etc… caused you the above on a daily basis! Everyday tasks being a protentral hazard causing you high levels of anxiety… But even worse you are unable to escape the trigger but instead expected to tolorate it!

imagine if you hated spiders, feared them more then anything else but u were forced to let one crawl all over your body… How would that make you feel?

Think of a situation, a fear or phobia that causes you high levels of distress, imagine having to deal with it every single day! Yet no one “gets it” your totally isolated and alone… Being seen as a drama queen, attention seeker or labelled as a trouble maker.

So many children & adults on the autism spectrum have difficulties with their sensory processing, some more then others, however when it’s a problem it’s likely to be a significant one! School, home, shopping centre where-ever the trigger lie, problems with sensory processing can be experienced just about anywhere. School is an obvious culprit for children given the amount of time they spend there. School can present huge problem, unstructured time is normally always a trigger for the child on the spectrum and you may find as a parent that your child is being labelled as challenging as a result of this.

There are seven senses that make up our sensory system… These are Vestibular (movement-balance), proprioceptive (body awareness), tactile (touch), auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), gustatory (taste) and olfactory (smell) Some may have problems with all the above, a few or non at all! It just depends on the individual.

The example of the spider was given to me by my very clever little man, who was trying to explain to me how he felt when forced to tuck his shirt into his school trousers (school uniform was a huge problem when in mainstream)

Little man has a range of sensory processing problems some worse then others. I would definitely say that he has the most difficulties with his tactile sense but auditory, visual and olfactory come pretty close. These have become more obvious with age.

It is said that people who are tactile devensive will likely have problems with fine motor skills that are related to academics and self-care skill which is very true for little man.

Lights tend to upset him too. While at the library with his tutor he was finding it hard to engage due to the lighting. This was because the lights were all different which meant they all let of a different degree of light, some brighter then others. When he first started he came home and asked, “Mum, why can’t the library stick to the one type of lighting instead of having all different types” he then went on to say… “Some flicker and buzz which is so… annoying!” He would also come home with a pounding headache. This was due to both the lighting and the fact he had actually engaged in work alday something he hadn’t done for the whole of 2010 while in mainstream. His now managing to cope reasonable well with the lighting and if anything his becoming quite good at blocking it out. As long as he isn’t sat in the brightest spot or beneath a buzzing bulb his OK.

His tutor is excellent and has worked out that by letting little man listen to music through his headphones (oh yes Bruno Mars is repeatedly played) while working he can engage better. Many don’t get this but his a bit like me there! I will blast music through my earphones while tackling important work as it means I am able to block out the world and completely get into my own zone resulting in getting important work finished ontime and to a high standard.

Every single day I learn something new about little man and how AS affects him. It was only the other day that I discovered the reason for little man wanting his trainers done up so tightly that it almost stops the blood flow! It’s actually a sensory related issue! It seems logical now and I can’t understand why I hadn’t realised it before. He says they need to be tight in order for him to remain in control of his feet. Shoes that move around freely give no control he told me. I completely get it now!

Little man can also be a little bit of a sensory seeker. He likes rough and tumble (play fighting) sadly due to the lack of understanding from school little man was all to often excluded for such behaviours. He also likes memory foam pillows, trackpants (he wants to wear the same ones everyday no matter how dirty they have become) and certain textures that he just has to touch.

The above are all fine but he does have a liking for fizzy drinks. This isn’t just a suger thing but definitely a sensory one too… How do I know? Well he cried the other day due to my refusal for him to have a can of fuzzy orangeade. I offered juice and he states “it’s not the same” He then goes on to inform me that it doesn’t feel the same in his mouth or going down his throat.

So there’s a bad habit need fixing.

So… My over all point to this post is for some awareness to come out of it, example… When a parent tells you that, “My child really can’t tuck his shirt in as this causes him physical discomfort that is one step away from what we describe as pain” We don’t really mean… “My child can’t be arsed to tuck his shirt into his trousers” or “My child can tuck in his shirt in but chooses not to as a deliberate attempt to piss you off” We really did actually mean It when we told you he can’t!!! For you to state, “Really I’m sure he can if he wanted to” is really offensive and like asking someone in a wheelchair to walk upstairs!

The child or Adult on the autistic spectrum has an array of difficulties aswell as qualities! Next time you sport a child throwing a “wobbler” in the supermarket, street, school gates or wherever else it may be. Stop and ask yourself is it sensory, is it autism or another difficulty, hidden disability you will never know so therefore should remain openminded before pointing, commenting or passing judgement.

After all how would you deal with fear, phobia, pain and discomfort if those around you had no understanding of it?

Sensory processing problems are very real, just as autism is! And for that reason it should not be looked upon as anything else!

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