University of Kent: Imagining Autism

Imagining Autism is a research project conducted at the University of Kent using a range of environments and stimuli and evaluating their encounters with such various interactions (ie lighting, sound, physical action and puppetry).

Sensory Integration Therapy: 

It has been found that people with Autism  have sensory difficulties. I know I’ve used this before but here’s a bit more about it. Again, not all autistic people have this difficulty because (say it with me) no two people on the spectrum are the same.

This sensitivity can be either over- or under-responsive to sensory stimuli or the ability to integrate the senses. It can cause extreme reactions (tantrums, hitting, banging of hands, legs, head) or it can be completely tuned out. So, for example, a sound is perceived differently by people affected by autism, it can be extremely disruptive to them and cause them to act out – because their sensors are overloaded. Another example is taste. Like I’ve said before, it is/used to be a ritual trying to get Chris to try food. He tries it, smells it, stares at it before finally deciding to eat it or throw it as far away as possible. These can also be examples of under-responsive behaviour. Where they don’t react to sounds or noise, which is also the direct cause for parents testing their ability to hear first before anything else. There’s are people on the spectrum that have no appetite for food. If it is not presented to them they wont ask for it, taste isn’t one of the senses that are developed and therefore any food is mundane. When taste is hypo its referred to as ‘pica’ and could also mean that they eat anything – soil, grass, play-dough – because it makes no difference.

SI therapy is similar to the Kent project in that it assesses the persons sensory capacity and it looks for ways to enhance or control it. In this case they looked at a series of sensory environments like outer space, under the sea and the Arctic through drama and performance based activities.

There’s no such thing as a lack of information on Autism. There is a general ‘meh’ attitude towards it though and I’m proud to be working for an institution that dedicates resources to such research.

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