The Autism Society Event and Education Recordings Archive

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Autism Society records most keynote and concurrent sessions at their annual conferences. You can see and hear those recordings by purchasing full online access, or individual recordings.

5411 Sensory Issues and Emotions [ASHA Session]

Friday, July 8, 2011: 3:15 PM-4:30 PM
Miami 2 (Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center)

With this presentation, participants will engage in a deeper exploration of sensory issues and the impact they have on our emotions. The presentation will guide participants through developing strategies that might effectively assist a person with increasing his/her ability to understand and manage sensory issues. The workshop will then link sensory challenges to emotional challenges, both by illustrating the ways in which these two systems are related, and by offering concrete tools to effectively address both systems. With this presentation, participants will engage in a deeper exploration of sensory issues and the impact they have on emotions.  This presentation is divided into two different overlapping segments.  First the participants will have the opportunity to more closely examine the key components of sensory integration issues.  The sensory opportunities in our environment will be discussed and demonstrated so that participants can develop a better understanding of the nature of sensory stimuli and the impact this stimuli can have on their bodies.  Once the components of sensory integration and the concept of triggers have been defined, participants will have the opportunity to increase their repertoire of interventions strategies that support individuals struggling with sensory issues. 

Second, emotional regulation and challenges will be discussed within the context of sensory challenges.  Through examples, vignettes and activities, participants will examine the link between sensory challenges and emotional difficulties.  Strategies will be discussed and demonstrated. 

Finally, throughout both segments, the presenter will highlight the critical relationship between building self-awareness in the individual with an autism spectrum disorder and the efficacy of interventions.  As parents and professionals, it is vital that we increase self-awareness so that individuals can ultimately identify their own strengths, needs and design appropriate intervention strategies.  If individuals with an autism spectrum disorder are aware of the rationale behind the strategies in place, and the instances in which a strategy might be helpful, they can advocate for themselves and be in charge of their own successes.

The goal of this presentation is to increase provider/parent knowledge in the area of sensory issues and emotions.  Most importantly, this presentation will offer concrete strategies that can be incorporated seamlessly into everyday routines.  The specific strategies are ones that can elicit success in any environment.  In a world in which the diagnosis of autism is far more frequent than it once was, and the majority of individuals diagnosed on the spectrum struggle with sensory integration issues, it seems critical to embrace the heterogeneity of this diagnosis while simultaneously deepening our understanding of the challenges associated with diagnosis.  Sensory issues are often one of the intense challenges associated with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder.  As such, concrete intervention tools that support both sensory challenges and emotional challenges seem critical for home, school and the community. 

This presentation will incorporate the past and current research and concrete intervention strategies included in My Sensory Book: Working Together to Explore Sensory Issues and the Big Feelings They Can Cause: A Workbook for Parents, Professionals, and Children. The presentation will also include other intervention strategies and information based upon my 13 plus years of practice in the mental health field as a transdisciplinary provider.


Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will develop a better understanding of sensory systems and emotions and the complex relationship between these two very critical areas for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
  • Professionals and parents will learn ways to assist individuals struggling with sensory processing issues to increase their self-awareness and ability to recognize their own strengths and challenges.
  • Attendees will understand the specific ways in which to design effective interventions strategies for both sensory processing challenges as well as emotional struggles.

Content Area: Sensory Processing


Lauren Heller Kerstein, LCSW
Child and Family Psychotherapist
Lauren H. Kerstein LCSW, P.C.

Lauren H. Kerstein, LCSW is a National Speaker in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). She’s worked with individuals with ASDs for 20 years. She’s an Adjunct Professor at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work, and has authored books about sensory integration and emotions, Asperger’s Syndrome, and flexible thinking.