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Hyper-sensitive means that a little feels like a lot, a smell that may not be noticed by people without an autism diagnosis might feel overwhelming to an autistic person. Hypo-sensitive means that a lot feels like a little. The volume of a speaker may appear too loud to a person without an autism diagnosis, but an autistic person may listen with the speaker close to their ear. People can fluctuate between hyper and hypo sensitivities, and it can vary across the different senses. It is not the case that all autistic people will find loud noises overwhelming.
This can apply to any of the senses that humans have, which includes the five main senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch) or other senses such as vestibular (balance and spatial orientation), proprioception (body awareness) and interoception (internal signals from vital organs such as, a feeling of hunger). These are the main senses that we are looking at.
Examples of situations that autistic individuals may find particularly difficult due to their sensory needs:
To help support your child in managing sensory experiences, see the factsheet titled, Supporting your child’s sensory needs.
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