We often think of our students with autism as being visual learners.We provide them with visual schedules and visual prompts. In the school environment they may see attractive classroom displays and have to walk along bright, busy hallways.
For some students, however, too much visual information can cause sensory overload. They find it difficult to attend to tasks because they’re having to process too much visual information on the page or cards in front of them. Whether I’m creating math, language, or science resources I aim to design my resources with clear layouts and as few visual distractions as possible, in order to reduce the amount of visual information which students are required to process.
This FREE Visual Preference Cut & Paste will enable your students (who are readers) to tell you what their individual visual preferences are.
Some autistic people need proprioceptive input (deep pressure) in order to sense where there body is in space, and to feel calmer. Buying weighted sensory products can be expensive, so here’s an easy and inexpensive way to make a weighted vest or jacket for a child or adult:
Buy wrist weights from a sports shop and pop them into the pockets of a favourite hoodie. The hoodie in the photo is sleeveless (as my son wears it indoors in summer), but you might prefer to use a hoodie with sleeves.
If you’re looking for more sensory processing activities and ideas, why not check out my Sensory Processing Pinterest Board
Although Christmas is a few weeks away yet, are some of your students getting anxious as they anticipate the changes in their routines which the Christmas celebrations can bring? If so, my FREE Christmas Countdown Chart might be helpful.
It’s important to remember that not all students like Christmas lights and decorations, so I like to make sure they have somewhere to go to ‘escape’ from the decorations, the noise and the excitement. My Christmas Countdown Chart includes a Christmas-Free Zone Poster which you can place on the door of a quiet room, or other safe space.
Many people with autism can be overloaded by too much input. Overload may be triggered by lights, colours, moving objects, loud noises, everyday sounds, touch, textures.
Here in the UK, the NAS have recently launched a video called Too Much Information to simulate what it feels like to be overloaded in public places. View it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lr4_dOorquQ
In school there are many triggers of sensory overload which can make it extremely difficult for students with autism to focus on tasks.
It can be difficult for teachers to know what are the triggers of their student’s overload, therefore I am creating some simple products to help. Available here https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Autism-Auditory-Preferences-Sensory-Visual-Support-2575352
Perhaps you have students who struggle to stay seated in class. You’ve tried a token economy, you tried visuals, but your students keep getting out of their seats. Those students may have sensory processing disorder. They may need to move to be bale to feel where their bodies are. Their bodies may be craving movement.
Do you teach any students with very challenging behaviors? Many of the students which we label as “challenging” can be sensory seeking or sensory avoiding behaviors. My teenage son, with autism, is hypersensitive to sound, but sometimes he can create a lot of noise by shouting, singing, or turning up his cd player super loud. He is making sound which he can control in order to block out environmnetal noises which distress him. Carly Fleischmann (see “Carly’s Voice”by Arthur & Carly Fleischmann), a young woman with autism says she creates “output to block input”.
In order to help you meet the sensory needs of your individual students I have begun creating some sensory resources:Sensory Strategies Self-Regulation Visual Support click here to view
Auditory Preferences Visual Support click here to view
Sensory Strategies Poster click here to view
Visual Overload can affect many people with Autism. I will be blogging about this topic soon.