Monday, July 2, 2012

About sensory issues and stimming?
I have been trying to get better information on adults with autism and Asperger’s. So far, all I have had to rely on is my own experience and that of my kids. The stuff written by the “experts” is often wrong or misleading. So, I’m turning to the online community to let me know what your experiences are. I have both Asperger’s syndrome and a degree in psychology and I really want to understand this from our perspective.
My first question is: Does everyone on the spectrum have sensory issues? (For my overview of sensory issues go here If you do, could you give me an overview about some or all of them. Stories welcome. Are there any people on the spectrum who don’t have sensory issues? Feel free to reply in the box, sent me a question, send me an e-mail ( Anonymity will be protected upon request. 
I am not trying to publish anything right now (other than a blog) and am only associated with a local autism advocacy group (REACH for a difference of Abilene, TX). Any responses will be appreciated, even if this post gets old.
John Mark McDonald


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your postings. Smell is a constant conversation...everything stinks... Baby bottoms stink.. Horses stink...chicken cooking stinks. Squeezing the nose, waving hand across face & sticking hand in pants to smell bottom are daily events. Is this person overstimulated or understimulated? Do u have ideas to help for comfortable environment?

scintor said...

Smell is a particularly troublesome sensory issue as what is a good smell is often defined by experience as much as by the scent itself. For someone who has sensory issues with smell (as I do) scents that most people find mild or pleasant, can be noxious. Other scents can go the other way at the same time, the scents that others find bad can smell interesting.

The thing that I have found that helps is to try to give the sensitive person a "sensory haven." Some place where they can go where their senses are not overwhelmed and they can indulge in the sensations that they find comforting. For someone with sensory issues with smell, it is important for there to be a place with without perfumes or other strong scents. The idea is when their senses are overwhelmed, they have a place to retreat to where they can rest and recover. This can be a very hard thing as people have been taught by advertising that something does not smell "clean" unless it is perfumed. For someone with this sensitivity, clean means no smell, good or bad.

Common sources of perfumes that people often don't think about include: detergent, fabric softener, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, bleach, disinfectant spray, fabreeze, candles, or anything else with a "nice" smell. All of these things can usually be found in an unscented variety.

Teaching someone on the spectrum how to react appropriately to smells that they are attracted or repelled by depends on their social developmental level. This has little to do with age. (I'm in my 40's and my social developmental level is similar to that of the average teen.) Without more information on your specific situation, I can't give you any more specific suggestions. Feel free to e-mail me for anything.

John Mark McDonald