DSM5, Autism and Sensory Issues

DSM5, Autism Criteria and Sensory Issues


The DSM5 (previously the DSM-V) is the soon to be published fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This new clinicians manual brings with it some long-awaited changes, and is welcomed by qualified professionals, in addition to its fair share of controversy. The addition of sensory issues to the new diagnostic criteria for Autism is welcomed by professionals who work with individuals with Autism.

How does our sensory system work and how does a dysregulated sensory system impact upon individuals with Autism? The sensory system is made up of 8 senses: vision, smell, taste, touch, hearing, balance, movement and referred emotion. These senses keep us informed about input coming from outside and inside our bodies. Together, all eight senses give us constant information and feedback about our enviroment. When our system is dysregulated, it creates chaos in our central nervous system.

Individuals with Autism have a combination of over or under aroused senses. Each individual has their own unique Sensory Profile. Only when their individual sensory profile is established can you begin to work with the child to ‘speed up’ or ‘slow down’ their senses as necessary.

Individuals with Autism rarely voice their sensory concerns and those concerns are most often seen in ‘melt-downs’. They are usually unaware that other people do not experience what they are experiencing.

Qualified and trained professionals working with individuals with Autism need to take into consideration the child’s sensory dysregulation and how their unique sensory profile impacts upon their functioning and behavior.

It is important to teach individudals with Autism to recognize the impact sensory input can have on behaviour, mood, tolerance levels, frustration, academic achievement and being successful in relationships.

The recommended program for individuals with Autism includes the following

1.The assessment of an individuals unique sensory profile ónly by a qualified professional

2. Teaching the individual to self-monitor the impact of sensory input in relation to all 8 senses

3. Providing children with the language skills to tell others others their sensory concerns

4. Development of a Sensory Coping Kit to help manage sensory overload and to take with them everywhere they go


For more information:

DSM5 http://www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx

Sensory Profiling:
Sensory Perceptual Issues in Autism and Asperger Syndrome: Different Sensory Experiences – Different Perceptual Worlds (2003). Jessica Kingsley Publishing.

© Tania Marshall All rights reserved. Duplication in whole or part is explicitly forbidden. Thank you.

12 thoughts on “DSM5, Autism and Sensory Issues

  1. My journey to an autism dx for me began with my son being diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction/sensory processing disorder. I studied and applied sensory strategies for him and realized how they helped me too. Highly recommend studying this body of work.

    • Dear Melanie,

      Thank-you for your message. When it comes to females, I am very concerned about the diagnostic “criteria”. This is because is it male-biased and many many girls and women do not receive their diagnosis because they do not meet this male-based criteria. I hope that answers your question:-)

      • THANK YOU…..and Yes,… I completely understand this… Rosie my daughter scored 14 on her ADOS test… and they are trying to down grade her diagnosis from autism to asd….

        Of course I am going to appeal using the gender bias and this quote from NAS website “In the UK we are aware of situations where clinical professionals have felt under pressure from their employers to under-assess needs in order to ration limited resources.” http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/all-about-diagnosis/changes-to-autism-and-as-diagnostic-criteria.aspx

        so I AM not a happy bunny…. It seems because she wants to socially engage yet doesn’t have the speech or is not violent an autism diagnosis is not forthcoming….

  2. I have some ear plugs I keep in my bag. I have still to get the guts to put them on around people. Probably, noise reducing headphones are better – loads of people use listening to music to cope with the sensory overload of being on a packed train, for instance – so ths willl appear more socially acceptable. But I still love my ear plugs! I worse them passing by a stretch where big trucks barge through near a tall building (extremely noisy! I don’t understand how others are fine with it).

    I am trying to find sensitive types with whom to connect with. This makes life easier, narrowing down people who are less likely to look down on you for needing a lot of alone time, for instance. There is already a lot of pressure to no longer be introverted, let alone, be sensory sensitive.

    • Hya Jenny… I personally feel its awesome to be a sensitive…. and I agree with Tony Attwood when he implies that autism is part of our evolution… Our senses are being tuned into higher frequencies and away from pain, lack and fear consciousness that is so rife on the planet… I personally am a medium a full on empath and truth-seeker it is this sensitivity which gives me these gifts and allows me to see beyond the untruthful reality which is painted here for us by the greedy few who run the show here on Earth….. I also believe that autism is where spirituality and science can meet in the physical enhancing our creative ability…

      For instance 666 is the number of the beast …allegedly…
      …. meaning the number of man in the unascended state which is when the carbon atom which is the basis of physical life has 6 electrons; 6 protons and 6 neutrons..

      661 is the carbon atom in its ascended state, 6 electrons; 6 protons and only 1 neutron. which is also often referred to as the God molecule. We facilitate the carbon atoms within our selves ascending through meditation and doing the inner work which rewires the brain to connect with the heart.

      Incidentally creating and observing the God molecule is also the aim of the particle accelerator project and is also what a deeply loving couple create when they make love!

      The carbon atom in its ascended state has the ability to amplify thought and we know that autistic people have an enlarged emotional centre in the brain and what are emotions?….but charged up thoughts….

      Many of the children being born today have the ascended brain intact and so the rewire completed and they are super intelligent. directly connected to universal intelligence. These children are also deeply sensitive and often get the labels autism, aspergers syndrome and ADHD.

      I believe these children are here on Mother Natures authority to change the world and STOP suffering … this is humanities evolution playing out of that I AM sure… So am thrilled you love your sensitivity… so do I… ❤

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