Sensory issues, sometimes referred to as Sensory Integration or Sensory Processing Disorder, tend to occur along with other issues. Problems with the Sensory system most often involve either being too sensitive (hypersensitive) or not sensitive enough (hyposensitivity) to specific sensory experience, in any of the senses (see Brain Basics). Children who are hypersensitive may be described as “sensory avoidant” and children who are hyposensitive as “sensory seeking”.
Many children with autism spectrum disorders are hypersensitive to touch and are bothered by rough textures – such as the seams and tags in clothing, or buttons and zippers, and will refuse to wear anything but the softest t-shirts and sweatpants. Some of these children are overly sensitive to loud noises and may scream and tantrum in response to a fire alarm or ambulance siren, or even the sound of the vacuum cleaner. Children can also be hypersensitive to touch, and intolerant of affectionate hugs or even a pat on the shoulder. Some children are overly sensitive to temperature and wear summer clothes through the winter or winter clothes through the summer. Children may be hypersensitive to and intolerant of smells, tastes and even textures of foods, and refuse all but their favorite two or three items.