The Seven Senses of Autism

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Autistic people experience the world differently from others. Sensory issues arising from autism are a well-known aspect of the condition, and in particular hypersensitivity (increased sensitivity) in one or more senses occurs frequently in autistic people. When you sense the world differently to others you inevitably react and behave differently as well. Someone whose autism causes an increase in the sensitivity of their sense of smell, for example, my be uncomfortable entering a particular room because of a strong smell there that distresses them but cannot be detected by others.

This resource is designed to give an overview of the sensory issues and symptoms often associated with autism, known as the 7 senses of autism. Like all of us, every autistic person is different, so no two autistic people will have the same sensory issues to the same degree. It is also unlikely, though not impossible, that an autistic person will experience differences with all 7 senses as described here, but nearly 4 out of every 5 autistic people will experience sensory issues of one type or another. There are also a number of different ways that each sense can be affected.

Autism affects every person differently and in a way which is unique to that individual person.  Similarly, the reactions of everyone on the spectrum are personal and should be supported in a manner that benefits the individual in their own unique way.


The Seven Senses of Autism

7 senses of autism covered in this resource are:

  • Sight (vision)
  • Hearing (auditory)
  • Smell (olfactory)
  • Taste (gustatory)
  • Touch (tactile)
  • Vestibular (movement and balance)
  • Proprioception (position of body)
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