Friday, March 23, 2007

Sensory Overload

Sensory Overload

Student E,I was told by regular teachers is hardest to manage after outdoor play.We have outdoor play after snacks.E would ride a favorite trike(bike with seat for passengers) during this time.He would either ride it alone or ask somebody to ride with him or ask a classmate to drive for him.

I observed what the teachers told me and yes,they were right.He would run inside after outdoor play,wash hands,drink water with much prompting because here is where he starts making noise,doing self-stimulation activities like playing with his fingers alone while grinding his teeth or making this unusual sound and/or put his fingers under his shirt while he was playing with his hands,and jumping up and down.This has accompanying tongue rolling and shoulder movements most of the time.He would also laugh out loud or cry out loud.All these comes one after the other when he is stimulated.

When I see him do these things I wonder what is causing them because after these episodes he would start shouting at the top of his voice and wont stop until after a few minutes.I try to stop him but its useless because he would do the same thing all over again.

Since this happens after outdoor,I suggested to the regular teachers that he should not be allowed to go out with the other students and see what will happen.

Whenever I see something unusual about my students behavior I try to look for answers,sometimes its a family issue,but sometimes its something about Autism that manifests which is causing the behavior.

I came accross Visual- Perceptual Processing Problem while researching on E's behaviors.

Irlen Syndrome is a type of visual-perceptual processing problem.
Most people are unaware that they have a perceptual problem.
Some of the symptoms are:

(1) Sensory Overload caused by bright lights, florescent lights, and sunlight. Lighting is stressful. The body reacts as if it is being attacked or bombarded, resulting in negative
biochemical changes. These may result in headaches, anxiety, and other physical symptoms.

(2) Environmental Distortions where the individual sees the world in a distorted fashion so that objects appear as blurry, moving, shifting, changing, or even disappearing. People may look frightening, stairs may be seen as a slide without steps, and walls and floors may swing and sway. This creates problems with sustained attention, eye contact, gross and small motor coordination, ability to interpret facial expressions, and poor social skills.

(3) Print Distortions which make learning or reading difficult. The individual may have good or even advanced reading skills but has trouble with reading comprehension, attention, strain or fatigue. Other visual activities besides reading, such as copying, handwriting and using the computer, can also cause strain or fatigue.

In most instances, this type of perceptual processing problem has a hereditary component.

Therefore, it may be possible to determine if your child has Irlen Syndrome by asking other family members if they have any of the problems listed below. Remember, most people are not aware that they have this problem or think that everyone sees things like they do.

Light Sensitivity. These individuals usually wear sunglasses, prefer dim lighting and may find fluorescent lighting and glare to be bothersome. They may find night driving to be difficult because of the brightness of the highlights from oncoming traffic.

Problems with Attention or Concentration.

There are two different reading styles.

One group prefers to read for two hours, three hours, or until they finish the book.

Individuals with Irlen Syndrome prefer to build breaks into reading. They may not read for pleasure, avoid textbook reading, or prefer to read magazines or short articles rather than books.

Experience Physical Symptoms. Those individuals who have Irlen Syndrome may become tired or sleepy and feel strain, headaches dizziness, stomachaches, or other physical symptoms. Lighting or reading, using the computer, or performing other visually-intensive activities may be causing this problem.

Many Autistic children cannot report or tell you how they feel. You may need to watch for behaviors to tell you that they are uncomfortable. Some behaviors which may alert you to this problem are rubbing eyes, squinting, looking down, looking away, or closing one or both eyes.

Has Difficulty in the Area of Depth Perception.

Problems in this area can be experienced while driving, especially changing lanes or turning left in front of oncoming traffic. Other individuals think of themselves as clumsy or uncoordinated because they bump into things, knock things over, or cannot easily catch a small ball or do other such activities.

Today I started the "no outdoor play" day.And it helped.He did not do any distracting behavior after snacks which is the time he usually does all these distracting behaviors,and was cooperative and joined his partner in finishing up a project they are preparing to present for the program on the last day of school.

His behavior is far from perfect but I think I was able to pinpoint here the reason for his most distracting behavior.This will make him work more and participate on the activities of the class for the rest of the day.

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