High-functioning children with autism may be cognitively very intelligent, but their difficulties with sensory processing can make them feel inadequate or clumsy. For these children, we need to support them to become experts in their own sensory systems.
An individual’s unique sensory system (touch, hearing, taste, smell, vision, proprioception, interoception, and vestibular) profoundly impacts their ability to engage in relationships with others and maintain stable arousal. If a person feels unsafe, they struggle to regulate themselves and coordinate with others. Understanding and supporting an individual’s unique sensory system is essential for smooth interactions.
For high-functioning children who can communicate and have some cognitive abilities, if they can understand the nature of their unique sensory system, they will be able to find strategies that work for them and solve problems on their own. Therefore, those around them should create an environment where they can talk openly and spontaneously about themselves and be respectful of this, meaning that they should be empathetic and respectful of the things they don’t like or are uncomfortable with and never blame or have negative feelings about differences. By working together to solve or overcome these problems, children can become more self-reflective, gain more confidence, and be more willing to engage in social relationships.
Being different can never be defined as wrong. It is something that should be recognized as natural. Some people may be more comfortable standing and others sitting when doing the same task. Some people may feel more comfortable in a quiet room and others in a noisy one. Some students prefer large group activities, while others prefer small groups or one-on-one sessions. This is similar to how some kids like math and others like music or physical education.
Help your child observe and recognize where their energy is spent when working. Encourage them to adjust, find ways to use less energy, and help them identify when to recharge. When a child questions their sensory challenges, become self-aware, and find ways to solve their problems, it means that they can reflect on themselves and recognize their diversity. This is already a very high stage of functional emotional development.