By Treven Pyles
Posted on July 05th, 2022
Hypersensitivity to stimuli is extremely common among children on the autism spectrum, affecting up to 93% of them. These stimuli refer to sound, taste, smell, touch, and sight. Exposure to heavy metals is a contributing factor to autism and to hypersensitivity to stimuli. Lately, baby food has been a major source of heavy metals.
Also known as sensory overload, hypersensitivity to stimuli in the context of autism manifests itself differently in every child on the spectrum, as every individual with autism is unique. For instance, some children experience hypersensitivity to bright lights, while others find the sensation of touch very uncomfortable. Sensory overload directly targets the five senses - hearing, smell, touch, sight, and taste. If a child with autism takes in more information by one of their senses than their brain can process, they can become overwhelmed. Furthermore, their brain may enter into fight, flight, or freeze mode as a consequence of what feels like a crisis to the child.
The following are common examples of instances in which a child on the autism spectrum may experience hypersensitivity to stimuli:
According to estimates, the prevalence of sensory overload symptoms in children with autism ranges between 69% and 93%. Hypersensitivity to stimuli is inherent to autism, and studies concluded that roughly 85% of the overlap between sensory overload symptoms and autism could be explained by genetic variables.
In addition to being hypersensitive to sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound, children on the autism spectrum may also experience sensitivities when it comes to:
Interestingly, children with autism may also struggle with hyposensitivity to stimuli, which is the opposite of hypersensitivity, meaning they are under-responsive to a vast array of stimuli. Hyposensitivity to stimuli often manifests itself as a constant need for movement, trouble recognizing sensations such as hunger or pain, or attraction to loud noises, bright lights, and vivid colors. Children with hyposensitivity may engage in sensory seeking to stimulate their senses by making loud noises, touching objects, or rocking back and forth.
By now, it is a known fact that exposure to heavy metals during early childhood, which often comes from baby food, contributes to the development of autism. However, few people know that the presence of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in the blood of a growing child is also responsible for sensory processing disorder. This disorder is similar to autism, as many of the symptoms it entails overlap those of autism, such as:
Routine activities such as getting a haircut, brushing their teeth, hearing the vacuum, a crowded store, or eating food can be excruciating experiences for a child on the autism spectrum. This is because these activities trigger overwhelming emotional responses in the child, and, as a result, they may try to communicate that they are in pain, feeling as if their body is being attacked by their external environment.
Since exposure to heavy metals in baby food can lead to both a form of autism and sensory processing disorder, the child is even more likely to experience hypersensitivity to stimuli. In some cases, a child who has ingested a dangerous amount of heavy metals from baby food during their first three years of life can be diagnosed with both autism and sensory processing disorder. Although not all children on the spectrum will struggle with sensory processing disorder, studies found that 75% of children with autism also have symptoms of this disorder.