Understanding our children’s sensory preferences

Understanding our children’s sensory preferences

2021-03-31T06:21:09+00:00March 29th, 2021|

Diverse – a word that would best describe our children. Each child is unique and as we all say, every child has his or her own pattern. This also goes with communication. Some parents may find it easy to communicate with their children, while some parents struggle. Because of this, questions like: “Can my child even hear me?” or “is there something wrong with the way I talk to my child?” arise. One important factor that can help in improving communication with our children is to know their likes and dislikes. When you know what your child likes, you know what motivates him to communicate.

Some children give clear cues about their likes and dislikes. However, some things that your child likes may be hard to understand. Example:

  1. Why is my child always on the move?
  2. Why does my child always smell things?
  3. Why does my child like to squeeze herself between the couch and the wall?
  4. Why does my child blink so much when she does outside?
  5. Why is my child so bothered with vacuum?
  6. Why is my child afraid of escalators?

Your child may do other things that are very hard to understand. Your child’s actions show you how he senses the world through tough, sight, sound and smell. Many children with ASD respond to the world around them in unusual ways. This is because they may not sense things the same way as us. Some children may be over-sensitive to certain sensations, which means this particular sensation highly stimulate them even in a very minimal amount. If your child is over-sensitive, he may become stressed and try to avoid the sensations that bother him.

However, there are also some children who are under-sensitive to certain sensations and seek them out because it takes a lot of the sensation to stimulate him. Children who are under-sensitive hardly react the world around them because they aren’t getting enough stimulation from it.

One thing to improve your communication with your child is by knowing their sensory preference. Recognizing your child’s sensory preferences will make it easier for you to understand your child’s behaviour. It will also show you where to start in helping your child learn to communicate. When your child receives information through his preferred sense, he may be able to pay attention longer and learn more. By identifying your child’s preferences, you’ll know what activities may be motivating for the both of you.

Below is the list of things that your child tries to seek or avoid:


  1. Under-sensitive (jumping, rocking, spinning, running back & forth, etc)
  2. Over-sensitive (showing fear on steps or escalator, fear on swings, getting car sick, fear of slide)



  1. Under-sensitive (loves tight hugs, wrapping self in blankets, squeezing self into tight places, insisting to wear tight clothes, bumping into people, clapping hands, holding objects, grinding things, touching rough surfaces)
  2. Over-sensitive (hates sticky things on hand, dislikes certain clothing texture, hates wearing hats and gloves, dislikes crunchy & chewy food)


  1. Under-sensitive (doesn’t hear what people say, loves music and certain sounds, likes it when talking to him in an animated way)
  2. Over-sensitive (covers ears, cries when hears loud appliances like vacuum & hairdryer, likes soft voice, can hear even the faintest sound)


  1. Under-sensitive (flicking lights on and off, watching repetitive movements, lining up things, looking at things out of the corner of his eyes)
  2. Over-sensitive (prefers dark, blinks often, avoids the sun)


  1. Under-sensitive (explores things by licking or smelling, loves highly seasoned food)
  2. Over-sensitive (loves bland food, sensitive to certain smell like perfume)

It is best to know your child’s sensory preference as this will help to make learning more effective. Expose them to what motivates them and try to minimise exposure to the things they avoid.

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