Were you more aware of the things you hear yesterday? If you didn’t read my post yesterday, take a moment to stop typing and try to see how many things you hear.
Some of you heard the television, a heater, a humming, etc. For most of us, our nervous system is able to filter what is important and should be in the background. Even to the point of not even hearing it unless we try. We don’t really notice the sound of the refrigerator unless it’s the only thing around us. The computer humming doesn’t bug us.
What would life be like if all of those noises had equal force upon your senses? Someone is talking to you, and the refrigerator is competition to their voice. Your ears are constantly bombarded with noises you want to hear and noises you don’t really like. Everything has the same intensity. Actually, it is often intensified. That’s what life is like for a lot of children on the autism spectrum and people with sensory integration problems.
I was reminded of that the other night when I was watching a DVD about strategies for helping Josh. The speaker’s point was that children’s “self-stimulatory” [aka stimming] behaviors have a purpose. Most of the time it is to help them cope with all of the sensory information screaming at them at once. I didn’t even bring our other senses into the picture. Imagine the same hearing issues, and add that the lights hurt your eyes, or someone is trying to touch you and it makes you want to scream.
So, when you see an autistic child do repetitive behaviors, she may be trying to cope with all of the input her brain can’t handle at once. It helps her block out things that are bothering her, just like we are able to do normally.
This reminds us that, once again, perhaps we should put ourselves in someone else’s shoes for a minute. Even myself. I need constant reminding.