Sensory Processing: Motion

Sensory Processing is the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of Autism Spectrum Disorders. We understand the world around us through our senses. This blog will focus on motion: hyper-sensitivity and hypo-sensitivity.

Hypersensitivity to Movement (Over-Responsive):
  • Avoids / dislikes playground equipment; i.e., swings, ladders, slides, or merry-go-rounds
  • Prefers sedentary tasks, moves slowly and cautiously, avoids taking risks, and may appear "wimpy"
  • Avoids / dislikes elevators and escalators; may prefer sitting while they are on them or, actually get motion sickness from them
  • May physically cling to an adult they trust
  • May appear terrified of falling even when there is no real risk of it
  • Afraid of heights, even the height of a curb or step
  • Fearful of feet leaving the ground
  • Fearful of going up or down stairs or walking on uneven surfaces
  • Afraid of being tipped upside down, sideways or backwards; will strongly resist getting hair washed over the sink
  • Startles if someone else moves them; i.e., pushing his / her chair closer to the table
  • As an infant, may never have liked baby swings or jumpers
  • May be fearful of, and have difficulty riding a bike, jumping, hopping, or balancing on one foot (especially if eyes are closed)
  • May have disliked being placed on stomach as an infant
  • Loses balance easily and may appear clumsy
  • Fearful of activities which require good balance
  • Avoids rapid or rotating movements

Hyposensitivity to Movement (Under-Responsive):
  • In constant motion, can't seem to sit still
  • Craves fast, spinning, and / or intense movement experiences
  • Loves being tossed in the air
  • Could spin for hours and never appear to be dizzy
  • Loves the fast, intense, and / or scary rides at amusement parks
  • Always jumping on furniture, trampolines, spinning in a swivel chair, or getting into upside down positions
  • Loves to swing as high as possible and for long periods of time
  • Is a "thrill-seeker"; dangerous at times
  • Always running, jumping, hopping etc. instead of walking
  • Rocks body, shakes leg, or head while sitting 
  • Likes sudden or quick movements, such as, going over a big bump in the car or on a bike

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