Sensory hyposensitivity

What is Sensory hyposensitivity?
SIMPLIFIED EXPLANATION

Sensory hyposensitivity is when the brain attaches less importance to one of the senses. A person who is hyposensitive to pain may not realize that they have hurt themselves, and a person who is hyposensitive to the touch of their clothes may wear them askew. The person's sense still works, but it's less reactive.

What is sensory hyposensitivity?

Sensory hyposensitivity is when a person receives reduced information from one or more of their senses. The person’s senses are not paralyzed; it’s simply that the message is received less intensely and/or with delay.

Scenario

Sofian is running with his friends and falls. He doesn't cry, just gets up and keeps running. When it's time to go to bed, Sofian cries and says he hurt himself when he fell. Sofian's parents might think he's just saying this to avoid having to go to bed, but if Sofian is hyposensitive to pain, it's quite possible that information from his injury only reaches him when there are no other stimuli around.

What are the consequences of sensory hyposensitivity?

The hyposensitive person doesn’t react to stimuli that require attention. The person may sometimes over-stimulate a sense without realizing that they are doing so, for example by spinning for a very long time. The person may appear to be behaving in ways that are disrespectful to others, because they are unaware that their actions are causing harm. Hyposensitivities can also make it difficult to know when to eat, go to the bathroom or sleep.

Sensory research

To compensate for information not being received, a hyposensitive person may seek to stimulate the targeted sense, for example by spinning, jumping, tapping or making noise.

What to do in case of sensory hyposensitivity?

A hyposensitive person needs more stimulation. Tools must be put in place to help them obtain information from their senses, and the environment must be conducive to their needs.

This is especially true in childhood, when it’s difficult to assess the impact of a gesture whose effects are poorly felt. If this is the case, the environment must be made safe and anything that could be dangerous must be removed.

Sensory hypo-sensitivities, sense by sense

Sight

What we see. The person may be attracted to shiny objects, bright lights, etc.

Hearing

What we hear. The person may be attracted by noises, loud sounds, auditory stimulation, etc.

Touch

What we touch. The person may not feel certain information on their skin, have difficulty adjusting their clothes properly, etc.

Taste and texture

What we eat or put in our mouth. The person may put objects in their mouth or swallow foods that taste strong…

Smell

That's what we smell. The person may like strong smells and sniffing objects…

Pain

It is the perception of pain. The person may not feel the pain when it occurs, or feel it delayed or differently…

Toniception

It is the perception of the degree of muscle contraction (force applied). The person may not control their strength well…

Thermoception

This is the perception of temperature. The person may not feel heat and/or cold normally…

Chronoception

This is temporal perception. The person may not feel the passage of time…

Vestibular

It is the perception of balance. The person may need to move around a lot...

Valérie Jessica Laporte

WRITER SPECIALIZING IN AUTISM (FRENCH)