Sensory and Feeding Issues in Autism: How a Speech-Language Pathologist Can Help

How are your child's language skills?

April is Autism Awareness Month! This month I’ve written several blogs about topics in autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) to help raise public awareness. Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about how ASD affects language and communication, and how a speech-language pathologist can help. Today, I’ll talk a bit about a slightly different issue: sensory and feeding issues.

When people think about speech therapy, they naturally think about speech, language and communication. However, speech-language pathologists are also trained to deal with other issues, including feeding problems and sensory issues.

From the time we wake up in the morning until we fall asleep again at night, we are subjected to a constant stream of sounds, smells, tastes, and touches. Most of us barely notice these sensory experiences unless they’re outstanding in some way. However, children on the autistic spectrum are often hypersensitive to sensory input. Hypersensitivity can take many different forms. For example, a child may express a dislike for certain fabrics, or have an extreme aversion to tags left in his clothing. Hypersensitivity can also manifest as picky eating, discomfort with loud noises, light sensitivity, and many other behaviors.

Speech-language pathologists can help a child acclimate to problematic sensory experiences.

We often assist in helping a child develop a higher tolerance for more intense and more varied stimuli while targeting different communication goals. If a child can better integrate sensory information, they can engage with others more effectively and be fully present in language and communication with less distraction. Speech therapists are also trained to help improve feeding issues. If a child is averse to certain food textures, colors, or tastes, a speech-language pathologist can help them accept a wider variety of food types and experiment with new foods.

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with autism? What sensory challenges have you encountered, and how have you overcome them? Share your story in the comments section below!

If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to jayne@speechassociatesofny.com. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.

© 2015, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

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