Autism & Touch
What is Touch?
Touch is our tactile sense: and is our sense of skin contact. It is in our hands, our mouths, our feet, our noses, and our entire bodies.
It allows us to sense if objects are wet or dry when we're feeling light pressure on our skin if something's soft or hard the sensation of wind and rain if objects are dull, sharp hot or cold and their texture and consistency.
What does under-sensitivity look like?
If you're undersensitive to it you might:
not notice being touched or feel little from physical contact
not notice cuts and bruises when injured
seek hugs and deep pressure
engage in Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours: where you pick your skin or pull your hair
seek certain textures and eat rough or hard foods
have a condition called pica where you eat inedible objects
not feel the weather and so wear inappropriate clothing
avoid or love baths and showers
check the body for damage as it may not always be obvious
use warning signs to prevent harm
find safe textures and clothing that feel good on the skin
have massage and deep pressure as part of a sensory diet
find replacement behaviours for harmful ones
What does over-sensitivity look like?
If you're oversensitive to it light touch can be painful or too pleasurable
so we may:
avoid hugs and physical contact
avoid others due to anxiety or fear of being touched
react strongly to cuts scrapes and bruises
find some textures can be very uncomfortable
avoid certain foods, objects, and fabrics
rain, wind, sun, and snow can feel terrible on our skin so we may wear too much or too little clothing
avoid or seeking out baths and showers due to the pressure
ask before physical contact
remove clothing labels
find safe fabrics as well as foods with safe textures
use variable pressure with things like massage and shower heads
avoid busy and crowded places