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Sensory and Motor Challenges

Copyright © Barbara Bissonnette 2013

Many individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome experience hyper- or hypo-sensitivity to various sensory stimuli, and for some, this can interfere with job performance. The person may be able to see the cycling of fluorescent lights, or hear the sound of a co-worker’s typing as a cacophony of utterly distracting noise. The smell of tobacco smoke on a colleague’s clothing made one woman so ill that she had to quit her job. It may be difficult or impossible to pay attention to input from multiple sensory channels at once. The person may not be able to look someone in the eye, and listen to what they are saying; or speak with a customer while simultaneously typing information into a computer database. Auditory processing problems can make it particularly difficult to follow group conversations. Motor (muscle) problems are evidenced by messy or illegible handwriting, or an inability to write quickly enough to take notes during meetings. The person may find it difficult to fold and stuff papers neatly into envelopes. He might be clumsy or have an awkward gait.

Common sensory and motor challenges:

  • over- or under-sensitive to noise, light, odors, and tactile sensations
  • difficulty integrating stimulus from multiple sensory channels (e.g. cannot listen and look at someone simultaneously)
  • may experience sensory overload and require a break
  • not able to interpret group conversations
  • difficulty with fine or gross muscle movement (e.g. difficulty with intricate tasks, poor coordination).