Sensory Issues
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Sensory Issues

FASD Behaviours

  • Children with FASD may show signs of being hyper-sensitive (feelings things too much) or hypo-sensitive (not feeling things enough) to the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.
    • Hyper-sensitive: Children easily feel everything, e.g., clothing tags scratch, bright sunlight blinds, spicy food burns, loud noises scare.
    • Hypo-sensitive: Children have a difficult time feeling anything, e.g., not feeling hot or cold, high pain thresholds.Children with FASD often have problems with the way they interpret sensory information.
  • They may be so focused on what they hear, see or feel on their skin that they can’t focus on other things. Or they may shut down or act out/act badly as they try to stop the thing that is bothering them.
  • Often as the environmental stimulus increases or decreases, so does your child’s behaviour.
  • Therefore, changing the environment can help to change your child’s behavior.


  • Try to find out what your child is reacting to: So that you can help them avoid what’s causing them trouble.
  • Be proactive: If your child is hyper-sensitive to light or noise, keep sunglasses or headphones on hand.
  • Make adaptations in the environment: Depending on the sensitivity, for example: use dim lighting, go to the mall at quiet times of the day, turn down the radio volume, wash new clothing before wearing, use soft bedding, remove clothing tags.
  • Use “fidget items”: When a child is expected to sit and pay attention, give them an object or toy to hold (such as a stress ball, bean bag, anything bendable or twistable). By moving fingers, a child can stay calmer and focus more readily.

For a printable tip sheet of this information, click here.

Developmental Resource Centre Waterloo RegionSunbeam Centre