Olfactory Sensory Issues in Autism

May 7, 2023

Almost every person has preferences or strong strong opinions about certain scents and smells. But for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), smell sensitivity can be more intense and impactful on their daily lives–this is known as olfactory sensitivity. 

Smell sensory issues in kids with ASD may cause heightened sensitivity (hypersensitivity) to certain smells, which can trigger strong emotional or physical reactions such as nausea or headaches. This can make it challenging for children with ASD to engage in daily activities, such as going to school or participating in social events, where they may be exposed to scents that cause discomfort or distress.

On the other hand, hyposensitivity may cause sensory smell issues in autistic children where certain smells are reduced or non-existent. As you can imagine this can be dangerous for children that do not receive danger singles from smells such as smoke, gasoline, etc. 

If your autistic child has sensory smell issues then you can employ the help of an ABA therapist to arm your child with effective strategies he/she needs to manage smell sensitivities. There are also some things you can do as a caregiver to help with sensory issues in kids with autism, such as: 

  • Identify and avoid strong odors or scents that may trigger a negative reaction in your child.
  • Use scent-free or low-scented products such as laundry detergent, soap, and shampoo.
  • Allow your child to take frequent breaks in a well-ventilated area if they are in an environment with strong odors or scents.
  • Consider using essential oils or other scent options that are soothing and calming to your child.
  • Introduce new scents gradually and in a controlled environment to avoid overwhelming your child’s sensory system.
  • Educate your child’s teachers and caregivers about their sensitivity to smells and work collaboratively to create a supportive environment that meets their sensory needs.
  • Work with your child’s ABA therapist to develop a sensory diet that includes strategies for managing smell sensitivity, such as desensitization exercises and coping mechanisms.

At Step Forward ABA we help your child manage smell sensitivity through ABA therapy services at home, in-school, and in-center. Whether your child has trouble deciphering certain smells or they have heightened smell sensitivity issues, we provide your child with the support needed to reduce the challenges that may arise due to sensory smell issues. 

Contact us today to learn more ABA therapy for sensory issues in kids with autism in Florida, and New Mexico! 

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