Children with autism may experience some form of sensory processing difficulty. This may occur in one or more of the five senses, which can be either hypersensitive (intensified) or hyposensitive (under sensitive).
Everyday experiences involve many sensations: the taste, texture and smell of food, the touch of clothes, and everyday sounds. A child with autism may become overwhelmed, anxious and distressed by these sensations and try to block them out with a repetitive noise or action that they can control, for example, rocking, spinning or hand flapping. Conversely, children who are hyposensitive may not feel pain at all, even when they are injured or ill.
Children with sensory sensitivity may also find it much harder to link body awareness and movement, (proprioceptive and vestibular system), leading to difficulties with body awareness, balance and motor control. They may have poor coordination or find it more difficult to avoid obstacles, get in and out of play equipment or carry out tasks involving fine motor skills, such as fastening clothing.