Author: Dr Kate Simpson
Republished from: Autism Research Talk with ACE

Loud noiseResponding differently to sensory information has long been observed in individuals on the autism spectrum. So much so, this is now identified as an item in the current diagnostic criteria. However, not everyone on the spectrum demonstrates differing responses, nor are these responses experienced the same by all individuals.

A team of researchers at the Autism Centre of Excellence looked at children’s responses to sensory input. Using information provided by the parents participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Students with Autism the team wanted to investigate if there were patterns in the children’s responses. Two main groups were found. Children who were more responsive to sensory input displayed behaviours of being sensitive to certain sensory input or actively avoided the sensory experience. The second group showed a mixed profile of being both more responsive (like the first group) and less responsive missing sensory information or actively seeking the sensory input. The most commonly reported item by parents was their child was distracted when there was a lot of noise around.

As we transition back to school, students on the autism spectrum will be moving from learning in their home environment to the classroom which may present different sensory experiences for these students. The impact the environment may have on the student’s learning is an area for consideration when supporting the learning experience of students on the autism spectrum.

The longitudinal study that this data was collected by is funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.

Article reference:

Simpson, K., Adams, D., Alston-Knox, C., Heussler, H. S., & Keen, D. (2019). Exploring the sensory profiles of children on the autism spectrum using the short sensory profile-2 (SSP-2). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders49(5), 2069-2079.