It’s widely recognized that autistic individuals often experience heightened perception of sensory information. These processing differences are often discussed in terms of hypersensitivities and sensory defensiveness. And, while heightened sensory perception can pose very real challenges it can also create remarkable strengths. This support is designed to draw attention to both of these aspects of sensory processing differences. It can be used as a basis of conversation between individuals and/or their teams to understand environments that might be a match or mismatch for them depending on their sensory profiles and the impact sensory experiences have on their energy. This information can then be used to help fill out the Power Plan.
Our tools focus a lot on understanding the profile of the person (PIC) and we want to ensure that aspects of the profile are considered both in terms of the very really challenges they can pose, and also in terms of the strengths they can offer. I think it is unfair to label autistic people as “too sensitive” or “overly reactive” to stimuli – We could flip the script and ask what is wrong with all the neurotypical people who are numb to the world and don’t perceive certain sounds, frequencies, odors, and textures at all or as intensely? Though the words “hyper-sensitive” or “sensitive” should be neutral, I think they have taken on a negative connotation and so this support is a call to reframe thinking – I’m not hyper or overly sensitive to smells…I’m a Super Sniffer who experiences smells intensely and for long durations after most people think they have gone and this will either be a challenge or a strength depending on the context and it will be a challenge and a strength always – the challenges of it do not disappear just because I can leverage it as a strength!
Appropriate for supporting Social, Language, and Conversational Partners
Free Visual Support: Strength and Challenges (PDF)