Section 2: Know how to recognise and support sensory needs
Q6: Identify examples of the type of environments and situations that might contribute to an individual experiencing sensory overload. (2.1)
If an individual is exposed to a crowded room with lots of lights, music and conversation, this can cause a sensory overload as it may be too much for an individual to handle and separate. A situation may be where an individual is being spoken to where the other person could raise their voice which could be too loud and cause them to cover their ears due to sensitivity. Changes to a routine or structure could cause a sensory overload as if they are sensitive to change, it can make the individual anxious.

Q7: Give examples of how individuals with autism may respond when experiencing sensory overload. (2.2)
Those with sensory overload need to ensure that they do not make the situation worse for themselves by exposing themselves to other environments and situations where it could make it worse. The best thing for them to do is try to leave the situation and ‘handle’ the issue, such as going into a quiet room, winding down with relaxation methods such as taking a bath, going for a walk, reading a book or listening to calming music. Those with autism can respond differently depending on the person. For example, the sensitivity can cause the individual to slowly build up causing irritation, frustration causing anger, lashing out at others, distress, avoiding situations and people, covering their head with clothing and seeking out quiet, safe places.

Q8: Outline strategies that can be used to support individuals experiencing sensory overload. (2.3)
Each individual with sensory processing disorder and/or autism will need to have a individual strategy that is suited to them. After observation, a care worker or parent will be able to identify what supports the individual during and after sensory overload. Usually with observation, a problem will be recognised and then acted upon to understand the stimulus that triggers the sensory overloads which will be taken away to try and cause less overload. The individual can also be removed in a situation and it’s important that a care worker, friend, or parent recognises the symptoms of a sensory overload to ensure they can help remove the person in case the person isn’t able themselves. For the aftermath, the person may feel quite frustrated, irritated, or angry and may have shown signs of behaviour that challenges. It is important this is responded to calmly and the person is led to a safe environment where they can calm down.

Q9: Describe how to create a ‘low arousal’ sensory environment. (2.4)
It can be important to create a low arousal sensory environment for individuals who struggle with sensory overloads. It can be a quick way to manage and combat sensory overloads before they occur. When creating a low sensory environment, it should probably be a shared space with a low amount of triggers – i.e. asking staff to speak quietly – as well as removing any brightly coloured, dazzling displays that could be too much for those sensitive to sight. There can also be a smaller private room which
also offers less stimulating triggers – sound proofing walls, playing calming music, displaying calming visuals, etc.

Q10: Give examples of ways to increase sensory stimulation. (2.5)
For those with hyposensitivity, increasing sensory stimulation can be therapeutic. It may be necessary that triggers need to be greatly created to ensure that the person can sense the stimulus. To create a more stimulating environment or situation for an individual, a person can tell a story using different sense stimulus to indicate each part: for example, for indicating different settings and mood, music can be played; sharing samples of food that come up in the story; introducing props from the story; using lighting techniques; and encouraging the individual to act out different parts of the story. Another method is getting the individual involved in sports, a walk in the park or sensory games using ICT.

Q11: Describe the benefits of sensory activities for individuals with autism. (2.6)
Sensory diets, which are created for those with sensory processing disorder, should be maintained and kept the same and personalised to the individual. It is incredibly beneficial that the individual is exposed to sensory activities to assist in helping them to become independent. Whilst most things benefit hyposensitive individuals due to allowing them to become used to the stimulus, such as visual activities, different types of music or sound, different materials to touch, tasting sessions and sports,
they can also be used to train hypersensitivity individuals allowing them to get used to and become desensitised from the harsh sensory stimuli.

Q12: Outline how sensory differences may have an influence on an individual’s dietary preferences. (2.7)
As described previously, some individuals prefer certain foods due to taste, smell and sight. For example, a person may have a diet of just eating pizza due to it being one colour. This can obviously have a negative influence on an individual’s diet as it would mean they are not getting the nutritions they need. This can lead to health problems such as heart disease and malnutrition. Some individuals may reject liquids meaning they will not get the fluid they need to live.

Q13: Explain how to support the dietary preferences of individuals with autism. (2.8)
Making sure that with all situations and decisions related to autism follows a person-centred approach is essential. When supporting an individual’s dietary preference to ensure they are not uncomfortable, it is important that the care worker or parent remains non-judgmental and ensures they are in a compassionate environment and their preferences are respected. Creating an atmosphere of trust will support the care worker or parents support in trying to help the dietary preferences as the individual
with autism will be able to feel save in the environment. This can also make it more likely the individual will respond positively to requests made. It is also important that when new foods are introduced, this is a slow process and the individual is given enough time to adjust to the change.

Section 3: Understand the cognitive differences individuals with autism may have in
processing information

Q14: Outline the difficulties an individual with autism may have with: (3.1)

a) Processing information
An individual with autism may have issues with processing information due to a delay of social communication. Sensory processing disorder can also affect this as it can cause issues with auditory and sensory information. Individuals with autism usually struggle with identifying when something has been aid to them as well as understanding and recognizing meaning behind words to give a suitable response to the other person. There is also the point that some individuals do not recognise
some phrases, jokes, or figures of speech and therefore communication may be lost or misunderstood.
b) Predicting the consequences of an action Children without autism will pick up and develop prediction and consequences pretty quickly but due to developmental delays, this is not always the same for those with autism. As mentioned below, the children may not be able to plan ahead or have
concept of time or day. They also may not be able to identify how a person is going to react to something being said or done. This can also obviously affect the individual’s independence, such as not being able to get ready for school the night before, or packing a suitcase. It is also very important for accommodating to change which can suggest why those with autism find it hard to do so. By implementing structure and timetables can support those with autism to know and understand what is coming next and flowcharts can help children with autism identify consequences of their actions.

c) Organising, prioritising and sequencing
Due to the difficulty of understanding the concept of time and actions, it might be then difficult for an individual to independently organise, prioritise and sequence as they may not understand how to do this with their time. Usually a structure or a routine is provided for those with autism and this can be a good way of organizing what they need to do in that day or that period of time. Devices can also be used to store information and act as a reminder for individuals. Over time, those with autism should be able to develop their skills in organising, prioritising and sequencing independently.

d) Understanding the concept of time A person with autism may understand time differently to neurotypical individuals, which can cause communication problems. This can affect their planning and their delayed processing of verbal instructions and changes to surroundings could end up
taking longer than expected. Phrases like ‘wait’ and ‘soon’ can cause frustration for those with autism due to the vagueness of the statements. They also do not have concept of time so offering to go somewhere on a particular day may not mean anything to them.

Q15: Describe strategies that could be used to support an individual with autism to complete activities/tasks. (3.2)
The strategies are created to support those with autism and are creating specifically based on each individuals needs. The strategies help to increase certainty and defined boundaries as well as independence. Those with autism may not understand how to navigate social norms and rules that those without autism follow. Daily care and support will be provided to those with autism, but of course this can differ depending on the person, such as supporting an individual by providing quantities of
toothpaste they need to brush their teeth, and providing opportunities for the individuals and the care worker or parent to communicate and offer an independent route e.g. the individual choosing how much shower gel to use. Of course, communication differs between person to person so the type of method they use will need to be respected and the care worker or parent will need to know how to do this to communicate respectfully and not push boundaries.