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Rethinking autism: implications of sensory and movement differences for understanding and support

(15 Posts)
HotheadPaisan Sun 03-Feb-13 14:16:04

Am still absorbing this, but it is saying something I've long thought about DS1, his sensory, vestibular and proprioceptive systems are out of whack and this disorientates and panics him and leads to a lot of the behaviour we see.

Not sure it's the whole answer wrt to his anxiety but it's interesting. Temple Grandin has spoken quite a lot about how the sensory side of autism is hugely under-researched.

Would be interested in others' thoughts.

www.frontiersin.org/Integrative_Neuroscience/10.3389/fnint.2012.00124/full

kyz1981 Sun 03-Feb-13 14:58:23

Thanks so much for this article it rings true for my Ds so much.

This is basically what The CDC team have told me in regard to my DS, They have informed me (OT & SALT) That he will be unable to learn any communication skills, life skills or stop his unwanted behaviour ( licking metal, smearing chewing among other things) until his sensory needs have been met.

They have informed me he does not know where his body is in space so if his arm is behind him, he won't know it until he feels it.

He has motor planning issues, his fine motor skills are within typical range- I still can't get my head round how it all links in or works but when he has had a lot of sensory input he can focus and sit and attend - we are awaiting diagnosis for ASD.

One thing I have always found with DS is that he can attend so much better when laying down as his whole body is supported by the floor.

HotheadPaisan Sun 03-Feb-13 16:30:49

What kinds of things have they suggested kyz1981?

kyz1981 Sun 03-Feb-13 17:01:24

Just a massive sensory diet, he has to have spinning, swinging, rolling in a duvet, deep pressure, he is supposed to wear tight clothing and a vest thing but he hates them, pushing a heavy objects and anything weighted. The NHS OT got him a Breezi High chair as his feet need to be supported at all times to get any focus, we also have chewy tubes, he sleeps in a travel cot as he needs to feel enclosed, having a break at the moment but we also do the listening program but he wont wear the headphones and brushing, not sure if anything helps on a grand scale but it does calm him and makes him less chaotic and more coordinated in his movements, it also helps him tolerate teeth brushing and focus on an adult directed task or request.

One thing DS struggles to do is have everything requlated at once so if he is more responsive for example giving joint attention he is so much more clumsy and floppy and can't control fluidly his movements and will injure himself. but at other times he is so agile but won't respond to sound at all and even visual clues can be hit and miss- Bot sure how they address this but the OT said it may improve with age and when he has more language and can adapt himself bit more.

But I know when my private OT tested him he did not have a normal blink response to spinning and required substantially more input to get a to a typical reaction- No Idea how it all links together but very interested in all the research - although a lot of it is quite complex and hard to get my head around.

HotheadPaisan Sun 03-Feb-13 17:07:50

How old is he?

kyz1981 Sun 03-Feb-13 17:57:46

He is 30 months now, but we have been in OT since he was 13 months old.

porridgeLover Mon 04-Feb-13 12:12:10

Hothead I have skimmed the article and bookmarked it to read properly again.
It bears out my personal experience and my reading around ASD.

Personally, I noticed DS's sensory processing difficulties looong before his movement or language difficulties became apparent and long before anyone else acknowledged them.
And I repeatedly find that his rigidity or apparent social incompetence is down to anxiety...whether the anxiety is due to the sensory or social demands of an activity is not always clear.

For DS, I have found that interventions that focus on improving his ability to process sensory information have been the most wide-ranging in impact. Intervention aimed at 'top of the pyramid skills' (e.g. handwriting, social skills) will have some effect but dont generalise.

I could talk and talk about this all day as I find sensory processing fascinating. I agree with what I perceive the author to be saying; that it is the pre-cursor to all other human skills.

salondon Mon 04-Feb-13 12:51:38

Thanks for the link HotHead. I have read some and will read more later. My daughter is 3y5m and I believe (from the little that I know) that she does a lot of visual stimming.

ouryve Mon 04-Feb-13 12:59:27

It makes a lot of sense. I'd estimate that sensory integration problems account for about 2.3 of DS1's difficuties. Rain on his face. Wind in his face. Sun in his eyes. A runny nose. The unmet need for the loo (unmet because he can't stand the thought if interrupting an activity, or he won't use the school loos). DS2's noise. Other people in the room with him, breathing, moving and talking.

This definitely rings true: "Extreme emotions can cause the individual to become stuck, unable to cease repetition of a movement." When this happens, there is no peaceful resolution. He gets like a jumpy CD, moving from one sticking point to another. If we force the issue by removing the object of his compulsive behaviour and frustration, it precipitates a massive meltdown, but at least it clears the air. Like a thunderstorm.

Then there's the pinballing! Aaargh!

The bit about intermittent speech was interesting. DS2 isn't as extreme. At 6.5, he now has some persistent words and although he is unable to sign in a way I can understand because he is insufficiently coordinated to manage it, he does understand some signs. For example, I have been able to teach him the meaning of "mine" (which he also now says) and when I signed headache to him when I thought he had one, he understood what I meant and seemed quite relieved that I'd twigged. We get the original, grammatically correct sentence a couple of times a year, though - usually when he's excited about something or peed off with his brother.

ouryve Mon 04-Feb-13 13:00:21

2/3, not 2.3!

DameMargotFountain Mon 04-Feb-13 13:13:52

wow....have read some of that article, and am blown away by it already

it describes DD to a tee

am in actual tears here, even though she's had a DX for 8mths, and i read about ASD every day, this is the most sense (ha!) i've ever read

thank you for posting thanks

oodlesofdoodles Mon 04-Feb-13 13:46:01

Yes, absolutely. Social skills are at the apex of the pyramid, and to improve those surely you need to tackle the underlying skill deficits at the base of the pyramid.

For my son, I'm currently thinking that his two big deficits are:
- Non verbal communcation aka pre verbal communication
- Movement, sequencing and being able to move his attention from one part of space to another.
and the anxiety and odd behaviour are mostly symptoms of the above

I've just finished an interesting book about a neurologist called Geoffrey Waldon who in the 60's was observing how autistic and NT children move and engage with the environment. In the 70's he developed a way of replicating 'normal' movement and exploration. It was adopted by others in the 80's and he died in the 90's. There are still people quietly practising his methods.

We have been seeing a 'waldon' practitioner and it has blown my mind to see what a basic level DS is at in terms of understanding sequences. He doesn't seem to have any learning disability - he's just started school and reading writing are coming on fine - but leave to get himself dressed - OMG!

Here's some links if you're interested:
www.autismandunderstanding.com/videos_01.html
www.waldonassociation.org.uk/

I'll read that article in full later.

Bluestockings Sat 13-Apr-13 14:29:45

Just seen this thread. Waldon method is extraordinary and it does work. A friend's son was one of GW's earliest 'patients' - non-verbal, aggressive, unsocial in all respects in a very loving family. Waldon took him on and worked steadily with him and the family for several years. it was transformative - though very hard work. The son - now an adult in his 40s - got a degree and is now at the heart of his family. He still has ASD traits and some difficulties but is highly articulate and socialised and lives independently.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Sat 13-Apr-13 16:11:20

Bookmarking to read later...

this is fascinating, a very good literature review
thanks for the link

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