Many children with autism suffer from sensory overload. This could be sensitivity to noises, sensations, lights, textures, temperature and more. The issue with these sensory problems is they impede things your child needs to do.
We work with a boy who has autism and he hates people touching his finger-tips. Therefore, it is almost impossible for parents to cut his nails because he will scream and thrash around. But he also uses his nails as weapons to hurt himself, so cutting them is necessary. It’s a catch 22 and there are a lot of times this happens for our autistic children.
Take for example a potty; if they are scared of how it sounds or how it feels to sit on one, they won’t want to relieve themselves. It will be impossible for them to learn how to potty train. They may not like the way a hairbrush feels or a shower sounds. It hinders their life in a way you don’t always expect; sensory issues can stop your child from being able to care for them self.
That is why Applied Behavior Analyses (ABA) is so important. The therapist can use ABA as a way to run programs that eradicate this sensory issue for good. The name of one technique is systematic desensitization. This is where, a child is exposed to the stimulus on purpose and taught relaxation techniques.
For my son and his nail clipper issue it looked like this:
– -Nail clippers were used on other people
– -Nail clippers were brought close to him
– -They brushed the nail clippers over his fingers
– -They used the nail clippers to cut one nail
At every step this boy screamed and cried and fought, but eventually he could cope with that step. It became normal to him and he calmed himself.
Dealing with things like that alone is scary, especially seeing your own child in that level of fear or pain. An ABA therapist helps to steer them through these issues until they are no longer a big deal.