Hi – while I am not a clinician in any way, shape, or form, I do recognise that sensory issues are a huge part of life for most autistic people, and over the years have spoken to hundreds of individuals and families about sensory experiences. From this, and with a huge nod to the work of Olga Bogdashina, I have set out some questions around sensory experiences that some may find useful. Getting a good sensory profile to take needs into account at school, home, in the workplace – wherever – can have the potential to be of massive benefit. The questions are not exhaustive, of course, and some may be inapplicable – but, it’s a start, at the very least. If you wanted me to add to the questions with your own suggestions please free to comment, or email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please fill in comments on how you are affected in the following sensory areas. If you do not see any sensory issues under a particular heading simply leave blank. Please give as many examples as you can possibly think of. This can be filled in by an individual with autism, a parent, or both!
Do you show sensory sensitivity with touch? For example how do you react to the following?:
- Material – do you show a preference/dislike to specific types?
- Sleeves – do you need to have either short sleeves or long sleeves?
- Do you find labels in clothes uncomfortable?
- Do you mind seams in socks?
- Tight / loose clothing -is there a preference?
- Belts – do you feel a strong need to wear one?
- Buttons – like/dislike?
- Shoes – easy or not to buy new shoes? Do you like to take shoes off whenever possible? What about socks – are there similar issues?
- Colour – is there a reaction to different colour of clothes?
- Hats do you like to wear one? If so, why?
- Trousers / shorts – is there a preference?
Is there an apparent lack of ability to dress appropriate to the weather?
Hugs – do you like them or not? Do they need to be a certain way?
Soft touches vs firm – is there a preference?
Are there any issues with the following?:
- Skin on skin contact
- Brushing past people
- Proximity to people
- Texture of food
- Shape of food
Do you show extreme hypersensitivity, for example with touching of:
Do you resist:
- Getting hair wet
- Having hair brushed
- Having hair cut
- Having nails cut
Do you show intense hypersensitivity to a specific noise, e.g.:
- Dogs barking
- Paper tearing
- Vacuum cleaners
Do you have an inability to separate sounds, e.g.:
- Background noise
- Extraneous auditory information
Do you hear noises that others cannot?
Do you love certain noises and seek them out?
Do you tune into certain noises and then appear not to hear anything else?
Will you listen to the same noise over and over again?
Do you ever cover ears in response to a noise – and, if so, what was the noise?
Do you use smell to recognise objects/people?
Is there extreme hypersensitivity – e.g. the ability to pick up smells that others cannot?
Are some smells overpowering?
Are certain smells greatly offensive?
Are certain smells sought out?
Do you use taste to recognise objects/people?
Does the texture of food matter?
Does the colour of food matter?
Are you a ‘fussy’ eater?
Does food need to be prepared in a certain way?
Do you insist on eating certain brands?
Can you differentiate between brands by taste (i.e. without seeing the packaging)?
Do you notice patterns in the surroundings?
Do you notice detail that others do not?
Do you like order – e.g. straight edges.
Will you rearrange the environment to suit his/her needs?
Do you get absorbed in looking at certain things?
Do flickering lights or screens bother you?
Do you rock/engage in rhythmical movements?
Do you flap? If so, when?
Do you love jumping up and down?
Do you ‘fear’ movements such as going down a slide?
Do you easily lose their balance?
Do you have difficulty in sitting still?
Will you misinterpret how much to flex or extend muscles when doing tasks?
Do you struggle with handwriting?
Do you frequently (accidentally) break things?
Do you miscalculate weight?
Do you use too much force, e.g. slamming doors or banging objects onto the table?
Do you tend to bump into people when walking, or veer off from a straight line?
Do you love deep pressure, e.g. strong hugs?
Do you seek small, enclosed spaces?
Do you walk on tip toes?