What is autism? Autism is described as a 'spectrum disorder' which means that the problems experienced by a child at one end of the spectrum can be totally different in severity and complexity to those experienced by a child at the other end of the spectrum. It is actually a collection of symptoms which when they co-occur, we call autism. One of the distinguishing symptoms of autism is sensory processing problems and these can take many forms. Some children can be 'oversensitive' in terms of vision, hearing, touch, whilst others can be undersensitive. In some children the sensory system creates it's own stimulation, much as it does visually when a migraine sufferer experiences a visual display and these children see, hear and feel things which aren't present in the environment. Some children experience synethsesia where sensory modalities become 'cross-wired' and noises may for instance be experienced as colours. Snowdrop's approach has been very effective in treating the sensory processing abnormalities experienced by many children.
Another huge factor which many children with autism experience is problems with controlling attention. If you imagine attention as a 'spotlight' which has smaller beams of light at either side of it, then in a normally functioning person, a stimulus moves into one of the smaller beams and this then alerts the spotlight which immediately moves to focus on it. In a person with autism, the spotlight may be too powerful and the smaller beams not powerful enough, meaning that the child over-focuses attention on one stimuli and the attention of the child can be very difficult to capture. In another case, the attentional spotlight may not be powerful enough, meaning the child has difficulty maintaining attention on any stimulus. Again, Snowdrop has vast experience in dealing with such problems and many children have benefited from our approach.
Children with autism produce behaviours based upon the world they perceive. How can a child make eye-contact when he finds it threatening in sensory terms, or cannot control attentional resources? How can a child understand and produce language when he finds the frequency ranges which speech sounds occupy to be excruciatingly painful, or if he cannot regulate his attention to expose himself to the conversations going on around him, therefore not exposing himself to those speech sounds and not processing them? How is a child expected to socialise when he finds the world around him to be a grotesque chaos of sensation? Is is any wonder that children with autism are often described as 'being in their own world?'
The primary aim of the Snowdrop programme is to normalise sensory processing, so that the input pathways to the brain are carrying the correct information and the little one is able to see, hear and feel the world as you or I do. It aims to restore normal control of attention, so that the child then begins to learn appropriately and produce more balanced developmental performance through the output pathways of language, socialisation and gross and fine motor performance.
If you want to find out more about our approach to autism, come and speak to parents who have children on our programme. We have a private Facebook group, which you need an invitation to join. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org expressing an interest and giving us the email address which is connected to your Facebook account and we will send you an invitation. Membership of the group is limited to two weeks for parents whose children are not on the programme or our waiting list.