Saturday, 22 August 2009


I have mentioned earlier that the cause of
many problems for people with autism is
hypersensitivity. What is it? In simple words,
one or combination of senses is doing overtime.
This can cause not only allergic reactions, but
also behavioural and psychological problems.

There are many examples. I have heard of
a girl who could not stand certain colours. Her
parents redecorated the lounge and painted it
terracotta. The girl could not stand sitting there,
because as she said: "the colour was scratching
her brain".

Cirwen is hypersensitive to certain sounds and
touch, maybe taste (last is still not confirmed).

Low,humming and very high pitched sounds are
seriously hurting her. She gets very upset, and
often says they are "giving her a headache".

Touch. She rarely wears jeans. The fabric is usually
too stiff, or the trousers are too tight, therefore
not comfortable. Most of her tops, have their labels
cut off because they are irritating. Cirwen wears
only cotton and other soft fabrics, where the clothes
are not skin tight as she finds them very uncomfortable,
itchy, restrictive.

Taste, I suspect, that she might have heightened sense
of taste, however it hasn't been confirmed by any
authorities. I just think this might be the reason of
our food problems...

Cirwen has been described by the occupational
therapist as "sensory seeker". This is not so good.
It means, that she is kind of addicted to the sensory
stimulae she experiences. She will pursue the feeling,
or sound until she can't take it anymore, and she
crashes. When she was younger, it would demonstrate
in tantrums; now she will be withdrawn, angry or very

I can see it often. She loves her own voice. Cirwen,
even when she couldn't utter words, always was
bubbling away to herself, always singing. Now, she's
11 I can hear her still talking to herself, making strange
noises while playing with her brother, singing, making
voice impressions till she has a headache or shuts
herself in her room. Very often, on parties, I've seen
her sitting with her ear plastered to the booming
speaker because she likes the sound and the vibrations.

Cirwen always had to touch things before she put
food in her mouth, any new object had to be inspected
by her fingers. New clothes, toys, even furniture is
accepted or rejected not only by their looks or colours,
but how they FEEL TO TOUCH.

You know, sometimes, when our kids are ill or scared
at night it's a natural thing for parents to take them
into the bed for a night. i never could do that with
Cirwen. Instead of settling down to sleep, she would
start to explore her parents. She would stroke our
faces, stick her fingers in our ears, noses, try to open
our eyelids or mouth. Pull gently or stroke our hair...
It was impossible to fall asleep! Now she's just too big
for that :-)

There are desensitisation therapies for dealing with
crowds and sounds, colours and so on. Many have
benefited from them. I, however, was told that since
Cirwen is the "seeker" it will not have much effect on
her. The therapy may dim the stimulae, but will
not get rid of the desire to experience. Therefore, the
advice is "Live with it!"... So we do...


  1. This is interesting because most of the people today have become so numb to the world that surrounds them. We could all use a bit of seeking instead of getting used to things. I believe that Cirwen will eventually find that healthy middle.

    I still cut off the labels from my T-shirts :)

  2. I think it is a gift that she holds so much curiosity for the world not through society but through only her perception. I think she could do great with ceramics or other forms of hand making art to help her express more while she can also appreciate more different kinds of texture.
    I hope that she will be able to adapt/stabilize and love her unique ability! :)

    PS. I saw The Speed of Dark on your Amazonlist, I JUST bought that book! Can't wait to read it

  3. Libertine your an amazing mother and your daughter is blessed with a gift that we have lost. I know that it may be hard at times but as I read this I realized how important life is no matter how it comes to us. God bless you and thank-you so much for sharing your story with us.


  4. AlpHa; I do hope she will learn when to stop, it is an addiction so it is difficult.

    Kaori; Yes, you're right she did enjoy sculpting a while ago exactly just for the sake of the sensation of the wet clay or plaster on her hands. There was a lot of mess and giggling and she made a jewelry box - she loved it. I'm glad you bought the book - enjoy!

    JB; thank you for coming and your encouragement. Seek and you'll find, they say - maybe that's one of thungs we should find - new and forgotten abilities we were given :-)

  5. Dakota is a big time sensory seeker. He use to not eat certain foods because of textures. I take that back there is still issues with food. He also can't stand the labels in his shirt. HE doesn't like tight cloths either. You know what I will be writing about the different sensory areas. I gotta find that book I wanted to share. If you can find the Out of Sync Child Has Fun there are great ideas in there that might help sensory wise. I believe that OT therapy can help the sensory issues. It's just a matter of finding a really great one. Therapy only goes so far and you are right I have learned to just deal with alot of things too. I really like how you explaind your daughter here. I really enjoy reading what you write. Hope you have a great Monday.

  6. Stacie; Good day to you too! Thanks for the title - I'll definately look for it. I agree it can be tiresome especially small things, like the way the quilt is placed on the bed when Cirwen goes to sleep. It has to be spread without creases, flat over her and the bed...

  7. Libertine...
    You've touched upon something with which we deal with everyday. Hypersensitivity.

    When Em was young, she would hear things before I could hear or see what she was talking about. At four she would say "helicopter" and point up the sky. I'd see a speck that looked like a plane and tell her, "No that is a plane" and she reply, "No Helicopter" A few minutes later a helicopter would appear over head....It blew all of us away. She was dx with super hearing...she processes sound before the rest of us hears the noise. I never thought it was physically possible...but she got the dx from an advanced hearing center.

    I had thought about an auditory therapy when she was about three. I can not for the life of me remember the name of it...but I think I decided against it because it was rather controversial. It was supposed to work to help kids with hypersensitive hearing.

    As a young child in the high chair, she formed a terrible "HABIT" sitting in her high chair. About 16 months old, she would take her food, with her hand and rub her food up her forehead and into her hair. This happened at every meal, so three times a day I had to put her in the tub. To stop her, would mean she would throw a tantrum and as you say she would throw the tantrum until she wore herself to sleep. She has sensory issues through out her face to this day, although meal time has gotten a whole lot better!

    We had an occupational therapist work with her at an early age, about 3 to deal with some of these extra-sensory issues as the called them. Along with her speech therapist we got her to communicate her issues. I never thought the OT treatment would work...but they did help her focus her sensory issues in more appropriate ways.

    The super hearing is still there...we use ear plugs...which took her awhile to get used to...but once they helped muffle out some of the extra noise, she quickly took to them. The face thing...well she stopped doing it...but when stressed I give her a wash cloth and let her wash her face for two minutes. It calms her down, it cleans her face...and I set a timer to let her know when she had to stop. This really worked for a long time.

    Currently, her sensory issues in her mouth seem to be in over drive. She wants to brush her teeth every chance she gets. Not a problem with me...we taught her to do it properly, gave her a soft bristle, and her teeth and gums are clean enough to pass any dental exam. LOL.

    Emily never did a lot of the echolalia...but she did do some before she found her words. Her talking to herself is minimal these days.
    However, she does love to sing...but usually not without some music on.

    It was great to read your blog and know that we have a similiar path that we are traveling. It is very cool that you were able to find out that Cirwen is a seeker. Maybe she'll explore in fields undiscovered in Math, Science, etc., and blow us all away!!


  8. Jenn, thank you so much for your input. Personally I have heard of super hearing, but never met a parent of a child with it, so you've just prooved it exists. Echolalia... we had that till she was 4... then more words came and more understanding.

    You never know with a good support our children just might bring something new to the world.

  9. This is another fascinating insight in something of which I know so little. This really is a great blog and you write so eloquently about what Cirwen. I am profoundly envious of how you convey what are sometimes very difficult experiences.

  10. Madame DeFarge, thank you for your kindness, but there is nothing to envy. It is an instictive sense of preservation. I am faced with a problem and have to find a solution, otherwise one of us will not survive. It's a necessity we all endure in other situations.

  11. You deserve a Mommy Angel award. My little cousin has Sanfilippo syndrome and sometimes it's hard for the people that love him. But the key word there is love. Not hard. ;)

  12. You are so right Karen, life can be hard - love never is. Thank you :-)

  13. Libertine,

    I have no words of advice or titles of books which might shed light on the subject, I can only lend support. I am a little late sometimes getting over to read and comment but I always learn. Reading your post and the comments from Stacie and Jenn I have learned things I never knew about autism.

    I also cut the tags out of my tee shirts.


  14. I have the same issues with my 7year old son... he obsesses over a crease in a canvas chair that has ALWAYS been there, but this obsession has started only recently. At this moment he's currently sat in tears because he can't get rid of the crease no matter how hard he tries. If I remove the chair from the room, the process is then repeated as the room isn't "right" without the chair. He immediately heads off to retrieve the chair and bring it back. As soon as we resolve one obsession (usually via complete removal from the house, without letting him see where it's been removed to or he WILL dig it out again) he just moves on to something else, consistently seeking something new, and as per Cirwen proceeds to obsess about it to the point of upset and tantrum. He's recently become obsessed with stray pluckable threads... on ANYTHING. The carpet, the curtains, clothes, socks, you name it... and then once the thread has been plucked, he has to eat it. The plucking of one thread inevitably drags out another, and so he goes on. Most recently I've gone to get him up in the morning to find he's awoken thru night, remained perfectly quiet, but eaten a huge portion of the pile from the carpet in his room. I frequently go to make a coffee, returning to the living room to find he's pulled at his socks to the point that there is no heel left. If he sees a zip it MUST be done up to the very top, and must return to check that it has remained done up every 10 minutes. He's also developed a physical stutter walking over horizontal lines... he can often get "stuck" stepping back and forth over a line on a floor, unable to move on without physical intervention. 10 minutes later, he'll be back up and returning to the line, insisting he only crosses it with his feet at very specific angles in relation to the line.

    It honestly feels as tho everytime I make any progress in resolving one issue, another 3 spring up to replace it... OT has had very little effect, and it's so hard not to get frustrated trying to deal with everything, but in situations such as ours there is little choice but to go with it *shrug*.