Sensory and Auditory Processing Disorders

Sensory Processing

Sensory processing is how our brain interprets and responds to information from our 8 senses. 

Our 8 Senses

Most of us know about the five main senses:
Sight, Hearing, Taste, Touch, Smell.

The lesser known are:
Vestibular ~ sense of balance
Proprioception ~ knowing our body position/ space.
Interoception ~ our internal senses ~ hunger/thirst, hot/cold, toilet needs.

Our senses help us to notice and process the world around us, our senses work all the time – but what if they didn’t work properly?

When we struggle with processing the world around us it can be some very confusing, frustrating, painful and really impact our every day lives.

They’ll either be hypo (under) responsive or hyper (over) responsive.

If they are a hypo (seeker), it can be much harder for our brain to sense them, we might stamp around to know where our feet are, or smell/ touch lots, or like to spin really fast, or not realise we need toilet.
If they are hyper (avoider), we might find even the tiniest noise too much, a tap on our shoulder might

Our 8 Senses
Each of the 8 senses are further explained on slide show below.

When our senses become overloaded, it can increase our anxiety and make us less tolerant to sensory input.

When our senses become overloaded, it can increase our anxiety and make us less tolerant to sensory input. When this happens, it can escalate and trigger very quickly into a meltdown or shutdown.
These are not chosen behaviours! At this point we’re in Flight, Fright, Freeze or Fawn – survival mode. We can not think coherently and not make coherent decisions. We need support, fewer words and a safe place (don’t move unless dangerous).

Auditory Processing

Being autistic, and partially deaf with APD (auditory processing disorder), I’m aware of how different people process sounds and noise. 

To those with APD, too many noises can cause/trigger an overwhelming need to retreat, meltdowns, and/or shutdowns. 

(Pic- representative of all sounds that can be heard simultaneously within a classroom)

For anyone person trying to filter out one sound (eg teacher’s Voice), trying to do so is exhausting, and often means there’s a delay in our processing of verbal information. 

Just because You don’t think it’s loud doesn’t mean your child, young person or pupil doesn’t find it too much. Ear defenders don’t always work. 

FM systems can be useful, LA’s (Local Authorities) can be reluctant to purchase, but if a professional recommends it, it should be considered. 

When APD is comorbid with other hearing difficulties such as misophonia, hyperacusis, tinnitus, and/or hearing loss/ deafness, our ability to filter is compounded even more. 

Imagine filtering out the sounds you don’t want to listen to whilst one of the sounds is a misophonia trigger. 

This was shared with me several years ago, I can’t credit the original source as not sure who.

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