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 Over-responsiveUnder-responsiveSeeking Out Sensation
TactileDislikes being touched or hugged, hair cut or washing, teeth brushing, nail clipping; avoids touching messy substances; complains about tags and/or seams in clothingA hard fall causes no reaction; not always aware of touchBumps into people or furniture to get physical contact / sensation; seeks out messy substances such as finger paints
AuditoryPuts hands over ears to block out sound; shows extreme fear to sounds like vacuum, sirens, toilet flushing, coffee grinder and so onDifficult to get child's attention; seems oblivious when spoken to; doesn't look around for the source of soundsCraves loud noise or music; likes to talk, hum or make noise
Movement and Motor PlanningAfraid of heights; dislikes spinning, swinging or sliding; needs continuous physical support from an adultDoes not object to being moved, but doesn't initiate movement; once movements starts, can keep going for a long time; does not realize he is falling and makes no attempt to break fallNeeds to keep moving as much as possible; may repeatedly shake head, rock back and forth or jump up and down; craves intense movement experiences such as bouncing on furniture; likes active play (teeter-totter, swinging)
VisualOverwhelmed by moving objects or people; avoids direct eye contact; complains of sunlight or that lights are too bright; may squint in ordinary lightUnaware of light/dark contrast; unaware of movement; bumps into moving objects; delayed response to visual information, such as an obstacle in his pathSeeks visual stimulation, such as finger flicking or spinning; seeks bright lights, including direct sunlight; stares at moving fans
Olfactory (smell)Complains of strong odors or smells that may not be evident to othersNot responsive to typically offensive odorsSeeks strong smells; sniffs everything, including hair and clothing
Food Taste or TextureAversion to certain tastes/textures of foods; gags oftenEasts most foods; no reaction to unusual textures or tastesLicks nonfood objects; seeks items to put in mouth
Proprioception, Vestibular (orientation in space, balance)Prefers not to move; avoids weight-bearing activities such as running, jumpingAwkward motor movement abilities; fatigues easily; appears weak, floppy, loose-limbed; poor grip; has low toneBumps or crashes into objects or people; rubs hands on tables; craves active movement, such as pushing, pulling; likes being squeezed or swaddled
Interoception (internal body stimuli)Tantrums easily when hungry or thirsty; prefers wearing as little clothing as possibleUnaware of hunger, thirst, toileting needs; no sense of satiation; will keep eating beyond hunger; oblivious to body temperature (won't remove jacket if too warm)Craves strong taste, such as very spicy or sour; may prefer foods (or bathwater) to be either very hot or very cold
table courtesy of Ricki Robinson, M.D., M.P.H., author of Autism Solutions
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