Empower Autism

Sensory Sensitivities

While each sensory experience is unique, there are some common ways that an autistic individual can process different sensations:

Within a volunteering role, support is likely to be given in response to a sensory over-responsivity or under-responsivity. Sensory-seeking behaviour is covered further within our External Resources.

Our upcoming table provides a list of examples and potential ways of accommodating sensory preferences. We aim to give you a general understanding of what a sensory preference is and how you can support an autistic volunteer in this context.

Importantly, there will always be an element of sensory input in a volunteering role. It’s impossible to eliminate or enhance all sounds, smells or visual aspects of an environment!  However, it is possible to make these sensory inputs more predictable and manageable for an autistic volunteer.

Key Points

  • You don’t need to remove a sensory aspect of a volunteering role, just reduce sensory input!
  • Autistic sensory sensitivities are over and above mere personal preferences, and should be understood from a perspective that repeated exposure can cause discomfort.


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