interviews

Autism and sensory sensitivity

For those who haven’t seen it before, I thought I’d share this video from the National Autistic Society which illustrates how distracting sensory sensitivity can be for people with autism and other neurological differences (this condition is common in people with autism, though of course not every autistic person has it – as you’ll see by the comments posted below the video!)

This video mainly illustrates sensitivity to sound, but as you may know, sensory sensitivity can also involve sensitivity to vibrations, light, colour, taste, smell, touch, texture, sight, etc. – or a combination of these.

However, just to complicate things, some people with autism also have hyposensitivity, which is when someone is “under-sensitive” to stimuli and has trouble processing information through their senses. Again you can have a combination of hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity within an individual, and this can be impacted by context (e.g. stress).

Of course some people are able to take advantage of the sensitivity that neurological differences can bring, however I think the video cleverly highlights how difficult it can be to concentrate for some people with autism, and why you might find yourself repeating yourself many times to a student or graduate with autism, or why they might find job interviews, job fairs, assessment centres or careers meetings particularly stressful.

It’s very brief and you’ll need headphones on for the full effect.

NAS video – Autism and sensory sensitivity.

Claire Byron, AGCAS Disability Task Group, Newcastle University

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