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SHREVEPORT: "For every 3 diagnosed with autism, there are 2 undiagnosed": experts

April 14, 2024, KXAN, Austin, TX: How to create Autism-friendly communities

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Just as someone who cannot see may find other senses magnified to compensate for the impairment, those on the autism spectrum experience magnified senses, too. But if you know what sensory disruptors make people on the Autism Spectrum uncomfortable, you’ll be able to help them navigate life in a much less challenging way.

Julia DeNay is the founder of SenseAtional You, a clothing boutique that specializes in clothing for people on the spectrum. DeNay is a fashion designer, and her clothing line highlights the importance of recognizing sensitivities and creating more inclusive environments everywhere.

DeNay said it’s important for the public to understand that Autism Spectrum Disorders impact balance, motor skills, taste, touch, hearing, sight, smell, and body awareness.

Here are a few of the ways the senses of those with ASDs are affected.

Auditory and visual disturbances

Everyday sounds can be overwhelming to someone on the spectrum. Loud voices, especially when people are yelling, can actually cause a person on the spectrum to feel physical pain. Chewing and snoring can also be disturbing, and environmental noises like car horns can cause anxiety and sensory overload. . . . 

It’s important for city planners to consider the rising rates of autism when creating greenspaces and other “sensory-safe” zones.

Tactile sensitivities

Those on the spectrum can have unexpected reactions to textures. Some textures can evoke strong emotional responses.

For instance, the tag on the back of a shirt may irritate someone on the spectrum. Slimy substances can cause negative reactions. So can rough surfaces, wool sweaters, or even wet sand. There is no limit to the number of textures that can overstimulate people on the spectrum, though it should be stated that each person is unique and has his or her own sensitivities that may vary from day to day.

Reactions to temperature variances

Temperature variations are difficult for people on the spectrum. DeNay said that extreme temperatures, whether they’re hot or cold, can be distressing. Some people can become overstimulated when they’re overheated. Others can become overstimulated if they’re too cold.

Adjusting the temperature or providing extra layers of clothing can help create a comfortable environment. Giving someone cool water in the summer and a coat or blanket in the winter can also help.

City planners can help create cool spaces in the summer by planting shade trees to make sidewalks less overstimulating. Safe swimming holes to make summer more bearable and sensory-friendly grasses in public parks may also be helpful. . . .

Why it matters

One out of every 36 children in the United States is on the Autistic Spectrum. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed. . . .

Experts also estimate that for every three people diagnosed with autism, there are two who have undiagnosed autism.


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