In 1943, 10-year-old Donald Triplett was the first person diagnosed with autism. All these years later, scientists still aren’t sure what causes this brain disorder (although some studies have shown a possible link to Tylenol use during pregnancy). But the symptoms, such as overstimulation, are well-documented.

Many aspies (people with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism) experience sensory, emotional, intellectual and/or social overstimulation. For example, everyday city noise, like passing traffic and road construction tools, overstimulates autistic people to the point that they cannot leave home.

Overstimulation and other autism symptoms often challenge a child’s future career and educational prospects.

But the day-to-day burden of dealing with a child’s autism symptoms often falls on caregivers. So, this article explores sensory processing issues related to autism and provides strategies for supporting growth and development in children with ASD.

Understanding Sensory Processing Challenges and Supporting Growth

Many people experience anxiety due to worries about money or other problems. Imagine the challenge when your mind and/or body react negatively to everyday occurrences.

ASD children often have heightened sensitivities to certain sounds, sights, odors and textures. For example, autistic individuals might detect the smell of secondhand smoke in upholstery, carpet and other surfaces. This heightened sensitivity causes distress and discomfort.

Such hypersensitivity often prompts an involuntary “what’s wrong with you?” reaction from other people. These reactions make autistic children feel even more uncomfortable, and the downward spiral continues.

Other ASD children have the opposite issue. They’re sensory under-responsive. Loud noises, bright lights and other stimuli that bother most people don’t bother them. Under-responsiveness could be a safety issue. For example, autistic children may not move to the side when they see approaching headlights.

Much like adults with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, autistic children with these issues often try to self-correct. They look for unusual sights, noises and other stimuli, which often leads to repetitive or unusual behaviors.

Implementing Sensory-Friendly Strategies

As is often the case with autism symptoms, caregivers, educators, and other people close to autistic children often have the power to mitigate potentially dangerous behavior like sensory overstimulation.

Start by creating a sensory-friendly environment that uses calming spaces to minimize sensory triggers. Frequently, caregivers and educators designate a “safe place” in the home or classroom. When autistic children become overstimulated, adults can gently direct them to this safe place, which helps them manage overstimulation issues.

Autistic children who are sensory under-responsive might need a safe place that allows them to play with noisy toys or otherwise stimulate themselves without disturbing others.

Helping a child develop coping skills is part of this process. Teach your child coping strategies for managing sensory overload or distress, such as deep breathing exercises, self-soothing techniques, or noise-canceling headphones.

If these two things aren’t enough to manage overstimulation challenges, and they often aren’t, reach out to an occupational or sensory integration therapist. If you don’t know where to turn, speak with a Tylenol-autism lawyer. Lawyers connect victims with therapists and other medical professionals. Usually, these professionals charge nothing upfront.

Promoting Growth and Development

Gradually changing an autistic child’s safe place is a good way to promote development. For example, taking away noise-canceling headphones or a computer tablet helps children build tolerance and adapt to various sensations. If the child has issues adjusting, you can always replace the item.

A modified safe place isn’t enough. Advocate for appropriate accommodations at school or in other public settings, such as sensory breaks or access to sensory tools, to ensure your child’s needs are met and they can fully participate in activities.

If needed, don’t hesitate to collaborate with professionals. Work closely with occupational therapists, special education teachers, and psychologists to develop tailored strategies for addressing an autistic child’s sensory processing challenges.

Implementing sensory-friendly strategies and advocating for accommodations helps parents help their children navigate the sensory aspects of daily life and reach their full potential. If you feel that your child’s autism may be related to Tylenol use during pregnancy, a Tylenol-autism lawyer can review your claim to see if you are eligible to receive financial compensation.