In autism so many things are our of whack it’s a pretty full-time job just making it through the day. I’ve described the motor problems, especially between mind and body. Now I’d like to address some issues related to sensory processing.
We have the major senses of sight, hearing and touch. I love taste and smell, but obviously they are not the primary senses. Soma includes kinesthesia, or movement, as a kind of sense. It includes body awareness. Normal sensory processing is generalized, meaning it is adaptable and can cope in a variety of contexts. It is what you do automatically. For example, if you converse in a noisy room you automatically tune out the background din, but a person whose auditory processing is global is blasted equally by all sounds. Then processing become overload. On the other hand, a person who micro processes might get locked into tuning into the same sounds over and over. Sometimes people who are overloaded due to global processing may try to cope by obsessively listening to micro-selective, familiar tunes.
The same applies to sight. You focus near, far, or on what’s necessary while ignoring non critical sights. The TV program, Brain Games, showed how normal brains are fooled easily in visual processing. We call it optical illusions, but it’s really proof of our processing selectivity. In fact, our brain is selective to protect us from overload. But when our brains can’t control the overload, which can happen with autism, we can be overwhelmed or scattered in perception or alternatively, we can pick a minute visual target to distract and comfort us. I am guessing you know people who have watched the same movie or cartoon thousands of times to cope with sensory overload, though it may be beyond boring.
I do believe these skills improve with practice. Mine have very much, but it is a lot of work to change this kind of neurological pattern. However, I have hope in neurological plasticity and in the determination to improve.