As an individual with autism, I have learned that, unfortunately, some therapists and physicians are unaware of autistics' overly acute senses, specifically hyperacute hearing. For example, the birthday party fun of noise-makers for a normal child was torture for me. There are many first-person reports of people with autism who, like me, find certain loud sounds intolerable.
Some children and adults with autism also have visual sensitivity problems. I enjoyed visually stimulating things such as flags or automatic supermarket doors, but individuals with severe visual sensitivities cannot tolerate even fluorescent lights. In her book, Somebody Somewhere, autistic Donna Williams describes how the flicker from fluorescent lights causes her visual overload. A study conducted by Coleman et al indicates that fluorescent lights can increase repetitive behavior in children with autism.
Autistic sensory problems are highly variable. When I was a child, I liked to play with running water; however, another child with autism may not be able to tolerate the same sound. I was attracted to automatic supermarket doors and I liked to watch them move. Another autistic child or adult may scream and run away from these same automatic doors because sudden movement hurts his or her eyes. Maybe a small anomaly in my visual processing caused me to be attracted to the movement of the doors. A greater anomaly may cause another individual to avoid the same stimulus. Waterhouse et al found it puzzling that I was attracted to strong visual stimuli, yet high-pitched auditory stimuli hurt my ears.