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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


What helps?

  • 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


What helps?

  • 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