Risk Alerts Restricted and Sensory Interests

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Video Summary

Dr. Deborah Fein discusses and explains restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests (RRBIs), one of the three domains that comprises an autism diagnosis. RRBIs encompass the risk alerts which are classified by the unusual behaviors performed repetitively or for sensory stimulation, including: Restricted and Sensory Interests and Motor Stereotypies.

"They are some children with autism, who if you let them alone; they would tuck their head down, and look through their legs at the world upside down for hours at a time."
— Deborah Fein PhD

Early Warning Signs related to Risk Alerts Restricted and Sensory Interests

  • Examples of Sensory Stimulation

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    Dr. Smith explains that not all children with autism (but many) engage in an array of unsual behaviors related to sensory interests, including oral, auditory, visual and tactile fixations. Making repetitive finger movements in front of the eyes is a classic symptom of autism that also likely has a sensory component.

  • Feeding Issues

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    Dr. Kolevzon discusses some of the feeding issues experienced by children on the autism spectrum, including extreme restriction of diet, insistence on sameness during meals, texture sensitivity, and an intense, unexplained dislike of particular foods. This video depicts the feeding difficulties, routines and therapies of several children on the autism spectrum.

  • Sensory Issues

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    Dr. Kolevzon dicusses the range of sensory interests and aversions apparent in some children with autism. These sensory issues occur across senses, including sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, and can be simultaneous, such that the same child may seek out some sensations and avoid others. Further, some children demonstrate a reduced sensitivity to pain that may also be an indicator of overarching sensory issues. Notably, though many children with autism display sensory issues, these issues can be apparent in earlier stages of typical development and are common in children with a range of developmental and intellectual impairments.

Therapies related to Risk Alerts Restricted and Sensory Interests

  • Food Sensitivity

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    The mother of two boys with ASD and a third with development delays discusses the extremely restricted diet of her eldest son, Gabriel. Gabriel will only eat about 5 different kinds of food and gags when given food of a gelatinous texture.

  • Restricted and Sensory Insterests Therapy: Using Paper and Paste

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    Two children with ASD work with their therapists on a crafts project. The project (making cards) allows them to practice fine motor skills, sustained attention and also gluing, drawing, holding, patting and cleaning. The act of making a card is broken down into a series of small steps in order to help the children successfully learn the routine of card making. Learning this routine will allow them to recreate the activity on their own in the future. It is also notable that Josiah, the young boy on the right, is distracted from the activity by his repetitive vocalizations, a symptom of ASD. Rather than being directed at others or communicative, Josiah's repetitive vocalizing appears to be nonfunctional and likely related to the sensory stimulation he gets from either hearing or making sounds.

  • Restricted and Sensory Insterests Therapy: Making and Eating Jello Hearts

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    Children at an early intervention center learn how to make jello hearts with heart shaped molds. This type of activity allows children to explore sensory experiences such as touch and taste.

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