May
24
2011

Aspergers Sensory Issues

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

Aspergers sensory issues are one of the most difficult aspects of our family’s life and as the parent I have to gain coping skills to help my children deal better with these issues.

My teenage son is primarily irritated and upset by the actions of those around him. He regularly complains that someone is “chewing too loudly” or “using too much salt” and he is unable to take his focus off of the perceived problem until the person stops the irritating behavior or he is asked to leave the table.

Physical sensations are also troublesome. The smell of gas when I’m filling the car is completely overwhelming to him and hair cuts have been a problem for years. As a toddler he screamed and cried. At 12 he refused to have his hair cut and let it grow to his shoulders. Finally peer pressure won out and he decided he looked better with short hair. He still hates the process but he will ask to get a hair cut when he thinks his hair is too long.

For my daughter the issues are being hungry, hot or tired. She has an uncontrollable melt down if any of these conditions occur. She also exhibits tactile avoidance behaviors such as refusing to shower or have her hair brushed. Of course she has to take care of personal hygiene so we have daily battles.

Mark Hutten of MyAspergerChild.com says:

“Rage or meltdown behaviors to sensory events that are overwhelming to the child can occur. These behaviors may be misinterpreted by parents as purely a lack of control – or a child who just “needs more discipline.” The youngster does needs to learn strategies to control rage and meltdown behaviors, but an understanding of the possible triggers for these behaviors and an appreciation for the extra effort he must exert to control himself can make discipline more efficient and effective for both the youngster and parent.”

In order to better parent my raging children, I have developed some coping techniques:

 

Being Vigilant- As the parent I have to insure that my daughter has enough sleep, eats often and properly (sugary snacks would be her first choice!) and stays relatively comfortable.  I have to notice the signs of an impending sensory issue and intervene in the early stages to distract her or change the situation. My job is to be aware of potential problems when my child can’t.

Being Proactive-I have to be proactive to avoid situations that cause my children problems. Busy environments such as the grocery stores or mall are difficult for both my children so I try to run errands at a time when I have childcare. I also have to plan my life more. Spontaneous outings don’t usually go well without preparing snacks for the car, making sure my child has her mp3 player to distract her during the ride, making sure she is wearing comfortable clothing, etc.

Maintaining a daily routine is a must.  Having the same morning routine keeps life running smoothly and prevents many meltdowns from occurring. We also have a designated time for showering because my daughter hates it and would never take one if she didn’t have to. She knows that after certain events like swim team practice she has to take a shower and it just becomes part of her day. She still complains but complies much more easily.

Part of being proactive is providing a “time-out” location. My teenage son has his own room, but my daughter shares with her sisters so we have made a corner of my walk in closet into a hiding place for her to go and be alone when she is over stimulated.

Being Sensitive-I admit this is the area where I fall short. I am often angry and frustrated that my child is having another meltdown over something seemingly insignificant. If I will take a breath, however, and approach him with understanding rather than frustration it will go better for both of us.

I have to keep in mind that my children are not exhibiting these behaviors on purpose. They can’t help the way their bodies and minds are reacting and we have to work together to find coping skills that help them deal with these problems.

 

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri May 24, 2011 at 9:54 pm

This is really helpful, thank you so much.

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Kimberlee May 24, 2011 at 10:01 pm

I am so glad! Have a Peaceful Day!

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ALLISON May 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

Thank You So much!! This information is helpful! I am so glad to hear I am not alone! Thank you for sharing.. please continue. I would love to read more.. The more I know, will help me help my son.
Thank You Again! :)

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Kimberlee May 25, 2011 at 11:17 am

My pleasure! It definitely helps to hear from other parents what they are going through and to hear that it is not bad parenting causing the issues. Have a Peaceful Day!

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rachel May 31, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Being sensitive is definitely hard-especially when the school bus is about to arrive and your child is throwing a fit about their socks bothering them.

My favorite was (thank goodness he’s outgrown it!) is with my son, who insisted most nights that he had to be covered up just so. No matter what I did he wasn’t happy, but letting him handle it on his own didn’t work because he didn’t know how to fix it either.

Ahh…those were the days!

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Kimberlee May 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

My son’s primary issue is noise but he also has to have his shoes on just right. This caused a serious problem when we were in the airport on our way out of the country!

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Delaina June 19, 2011 at 8:53 pm

My child does not have Asperger’s but she does have a chromosome abnormality and also has a sensory disorder. Her main thing was being touched (we could NOT do her hair, etc.) AND she had a major aversion to noise (even putting away dishes would make her upset and she could never play with other children). What has helped us tremendously and helps any child with a sensory disorder is THERAPEUTIC LISTENING. It is administered by an OT and there are not many that do it but you can find one in your area but going here:

http://www.vitallinks.net/parentinfo.shtml

Since we started the program almost a year ago, we went from not even being able to PUT headphones on our daughter or touching her ears to her being able to tolerate noise and initiate socialization. She has less behavioral problems (as children with these disorders needs more control over their environment since everything is more threatening with them being so out of balance sensory-speaking). It has been an amazing transformation. I hope it works for you as well. Take care.

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Kimberlee June 20, 2011 at 4:58 am

Thank you so much Delaina! I will check out that link.

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marisa August 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I have 5kiddos, our 10 yr old son has HFA and our 5 year old has sensory issues as well. Your tips are right on and I needed to see them again.

Just found your site and it is a wealth of info.

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Kimberlee August 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Welcome! I am so glad that you are finding some helpful information. Sorry for my ignorance, but what is HFA?

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Courtney March 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm

HFA is High Functioning Autism.

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Kimberlee March 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Thanks Courtney.

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Jill March 6, 2012 at 10:38 am

THANK YOU so much for this site! I stumbled upon it from Pinterest for the how to live on $28,000 a year, but then the Asperger’s information is WONDERFUL! It’s the true blessing. My four year old daughter has Aspergers and has just been diagnosed. I have been working for two years to find the answers to what was going on. I am so glad to have found this resource!!!

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Kimberlee March 6, 2012 at 10:59 am

Welcome Jill. I am so glad that you found the posts helpful. :)

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Cheryl April 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm

We have dealt with sensory integration issues at our house.
It is a challenge for sure! I remember the transition at the grocery store being so hard. We did so well in the store with a snack in the cart and then the bustle of the checkout line would send my little daughter wailing.
Glad to see people talking about this. When my daughter was born we were so tight lipped about these things. We just had to be because of the stigma.
Aspergers syndrome appeared on the books the year my daughter was born. No one knew what we were dealing with. And the perception of Autism was so far from where she was.
My daughter is 18 now and doing well. But, we are left with struggles. Social naivety being one of them.
Best wishes to you and yours.

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Diana April 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm

I, too stumbled onto your blog through a Pinterest pin regarding living on less than $28,000…we have just retired and will be living for the next year on less than $28,000. But what led me to comment is your blog concerning the special needs of your children and your responses to their needs. Our youngest daughter (now an adult) was diagnosed with ADD (not ADHD) and borderline dyslexia, what we/she has come to realize as an adult is that in addition or instead she has a sensory disorder. There was not resources like this when she was a child…I often felt inadequate and isolated. What you are doing…sharing the challanges and what works and doesn’t work for you and your family is very good thing.
On another note, our daughter has grown up, acquired 3 degrees, is a successful physical therapist, certainly not without great trials. She has adopted and is the wonderful mom of 2 pre-schooler with special needs and the step-mom to 2 teen-agers, 1 with possible Aspergers.
I just want to say keep up the good work.

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Kimberlee April 21, 2012 at 7:48 am

Thanks so much Diana! I have had to figure out a lot of things on my own, so I thought I might help someone else by sharing. :)

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