Recently my wife and I have been doing a lot of research on autism. Our soon to be four year old son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum one year ago. I now fully appreciate the challenge it takes to raise a child with autism.
The signs were there but I dismissed them as my son being shy and when in public places he would habitually cover his ears, I dismissed the behavior as an oddity stemming from the hyperactive imagination of a child. I am no longer in denial and I now help my wife to actively seek out creative techniques and tools to teach our son.
Most of my research seems to point me in the direction of kinesthetic learning, sometimes known as tactile learning. For those who are not familiar with this concept, kinesthetic learning is characterized by learning through the process of actively doing something, versus sitting still and listening to a lecture or making an observation. When I was introduced to the concept during my graduate studies, I was not sold. I felt strongly that kinesthetic learning, was typical for most toddlers and children and that the concept was simply being exaggerated; now I am a believer.
With a sensory processing disorder mainly characterized by visual and auditory hypersensitivity, I have come to notice that my son relies mostly on his tactile senses to make sense of his world. He is very cognizant about the texture of anything he makes physical contact with, and since his sense of touch isn't something that creates a lot discomfort for him, he is more receptive to learning new concepts he is taught through his sense of touch. My wife has been very good about finding products that both aid in his acquisition of information and carter to his desire to constantly use his hands. From pillow books, (yes, pillow books) to children's books with various textures for the child to feel while reading, parents of children with sensory processing or spectrum related disorders would be surprised to learn what's out there.