Monday, June 13, 2016

Sensing the Subconscious

As an aspiring physical therapist I have found myself being drawn to working with individuals who have not only physical disabilities but cognitive ones as well. During my time observing and aiding a special education PT in a school setting I began to notice something very different about children with Autism, their sensory sensitivity. While reading See What I’m Saying, I couldn’t help but think about how much more input those with Autism are receiving.

                           I had never known that I myself, am constantly subconsciously smelling, hearing and seeing much more than I know. The difference between a person with Autism and one without is that an individual with Autism is in tune to their unconscious senses. This means that they can smell that subliminal lavender mentioned in Chapter 4 and hear background nose at all times, both often agitating them.  Having this sensitivity causes much stress in children’s lives. I have noticed children constantly covering there ears, eyes and noses to try and tone down their senses. Since it is hard to control the outer world much success in toning down these sensory overrides has come from introducing new sensory focuses for the children. For example when a child must be taken into a new room filled with children the transition was made easiest when a recording of familiar nursery rhymes was played, as well as bringing the visual attention to a patterned cloth instead of the filled room. By introducing familiar less complex noises and visuals the child was able to more comfortably enter a new room due to the fact they were eased into the situation allowing their senses to acclimate to the new environment.


  1. Emily,

    I had this same realization throughout this class! Funny enough, I'm taking another class alongside this one in which a brief video was shown that puts the viewer in the eyes of an autistic child as his mother takes him through a shopping mall. It was truly an overwhelming experience. It's sad that autistic children get a reputation at times for being reserved or anti-social (this was often a topic of conversation at a preschool I worked at previously), when often these actions (covering their ears, eyes, etc.) are just an attempt to tone down the sensory information they are receiving. On the contrary, I've actually found that most of the students with autism I've worked with have been some of the friendliest out of the class once they felt comfortable in their environment.

  2. Emily,

    I can totally relate to how you feel given the fact that you are studying to be a PT. I myself currently and OT major and I would like to focus on pediatrics. I grew up with two autistic cousins. Both of them have different types of autism. One is more functioning than the other because he has asbergers and the other has a bit more challenges and is also on medication. Both of them are similar in the sense that they cover their ears when there's a lot of noises going on or if they get over stimulated the self soothe by swaying back and forth. The heightened senses are visible in both my cousins as well as their impeccable memories. All these little things make more sense to me after reading this book and learning all the different ways our bodies perceive things.