Olfactory hyposensitivity

What is hyposensitivity to odors?

Hyposensitivity to odors is when the person is less able to smell than usual, sometimes being almost unable to smell at all. This may mean that the person is unaware of the odors they are emitting, and it makes eating unpleasant because the smell of food is not perceived properly. The person may want to smell certain things, such as people's hair, to give the brain the information it needs. Autistic people have hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities more often, but people without any particular developmental diagnosis can also have these conditions.

Olfactory hyposensitivity

It might seem convenient to have olfactory hyposensitivity, i.e. to smell very little, but it can also cause challenges.

Body odor

Not having a good sense of smell could mean that the person doesn’t know that they have body odour, or that their feet or hair smell bad. If this is the case, a protocol needs to be established so that the person takes certain actions at specific times. These include showering, applying deodorant and changing socks. It’s also possible to favor certain fabrics to help prevent the person from smelling bad. Certain sock fabrics, for example, are more likely to give off strong odors. All these gestures, even if they don’t seem necessary to the person, can help them avoid smelling bad.


Perfume doesn't mask bad smells; it can even make them worse.


Body odor can repel people and create conflict, since the hyposensitive person probably feels that remarks are exaggerated. Using perfume can also provoke this type of problem. Olfactory hyposensitivity can therefore lead to more complex social interactions, which are already more complex for autistic people.

On the other hand, since odors are often a source of anxiety for people with autism, especially in social contexts, olfactory hyposensitivity can be an advantage in contexts where there are many stimuli.

Health & Safety

It’s dangerous to not be able to smell things like smoke, gas, petrol or chemicals. People with this hyposensitivity need to be aware of their condition and take the necessary steps to ensure their safety. For example, install more smoke detectors or be more careful than others when using hazardous products.


When the brain doesn’t receive the information it needs from one of the senses, it may try to get what it needs in another way. A person using olfactory sensory research will try to seek out odors to smell. They may smell perfumes, people’s hair or their own, sniff objects, fabrics, the ground or products.


Odor-seeking can lead to an attraction to toxic products, glues, cleaning products, the smell of gasoline, etc., which can cause serious health problems. Inhaling this type of odor too frequently can lead to serious health problems.

Safe odor sensory-seeking

You can buy scented bracelets, make a scent box with small, easy-to-carry objects or carry a piece of fabric in your pocket with a specific scent that makes you feel good.

Valérie Jessica Laporte