Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Asperger's Syndrome Treatment - Six Therapies That Can Help Solve Your Child's Sensory Issues

Perhaps one of the most important kinds of treatment for kids diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, is sensory integration therapy. What is sensory integration therapy? Well, kids with autism have a lot of sensory processing issues. This means that every kind of stimuli seems too extreme for them. While most people have some kind of filtering system, kids and adults with Asperger's syndrome have a very hard time filtering out extraneous sensory information.

What does a sensory overload look like?

Your child may not want to put on the clothes you laid out for him because they are too scratchy or there's a tag in the back. He may refuse to go into many public places because they are too noisy, or the lights are too bright. He may suddenly have a tantrum because the smell of someone's perfume is overwhelming him.

A Child Who Is Under-Sensitivity To His Surroundings May Also Have Problems

Conversely, there are also kids who are under-sensitive to sensory stimuli and are constantly seeking and craving it. They are the kids who will be tearing around your house, crashing into things and generally on the move all the time. They want to touch everything and experience everything, and can never seem to sit still.

What both of these categories have in common are deficits in the sensory processing system. And there are ways to treat them.

1. Auditory Integration Therapy

An occupational therapist who is trained in helping kids with sensory issues will have a number of tricks up their sleeve. One is auditory integration therapy (AIT). Studies have shown that listening to special CDs of music that have certain frequencies and pitches can actually change the way that the brain processes information. With this therapy, it's changing the way sounds are processed.

The person who is getting AIT listens to a CD made for them for two sessions of 30 minutes each per day, using headphones. Over a period of time, the music can actually change the way the brain hears the music, and make a person less over-reactive to loud noises, and more able to process sounds and language effectively.

2. The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol

The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol is a treatment for Asperger's syndrome when kids have tactile sensitivity issues. In other words, they have problems with touch. Kids with this problem often can't stand the feel of their clothes, can't stand to play outside because they might touch something weird, or jump if someone accidentally touches them.

This method of treatment involves using a surgical brush to brush the person's skin in a very specific way. This is done several times a day at preset intervals. It needs to be done with a trained therapist's supervision. When it is done correctly, it can reduce sensitivity to tactile stimuli.

3. Other Methods

There are many different tools that occupational therapists will use to help a child with Asperger's syndrome who has sensory issues. Many of these will be different for each child. A lot of them may look like playing, but it actually has specific goals and focuses on specific sensory systems in the body to change the way that system processes information.

Here are a few other techniques:

  • Weighted blankets: People with Asperger's often crave deep pressure, as it is calming to them. Weighted blankets provide this. This increases their ability to focus.
  • Trampolines, swing sets, and rocking toys: These can stimulate the vestibular system in a person with Asperger's. This can help either calm them down or stimulate them, depending on their sensitivities. Any activities involving movement can be helpful in this case.
  • Joint compression: This is a treatment an occupational therapist can teach you that can regulate a person's nervous system. It involves manipulating and pulling on joints in a certain way that acts to kind of reset the sensory system.
  • Sensory fidget bag: A sensory fidget bag can be useful to keep on hand. This should include anything that you can find to fill a bag with that your child can fidget with. Some examples are stress balls, koosh balls, feathers, slinkys, and so on. These sensations will give the child something to focus on, thus also having a calming effect.

As you can see, there are many ways that sensory integration issues can be treated. Sensory integration therapy can be a very useful treatment for children who exhibit specific symptoms of Asperger's syndrome.

Hopefully these tips can make life a little easier especially for children with Asperger's and their parents. In addition to these methods, there are many other tips and suggestions that can help your loved one live a fulfilling and happy life. A great site to find information to help children with Asperger's syndrome is the web site There you will be able to sign up for the FREE Asperger's Syndrome Newsletter as well as get additional information to help your loved one be happy and succeed in life.

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