Tactile Defensiveness & Autism

See also:    Sensory Systems    Sensory Integration   

Internet Resources

Sherry Haar
I cite the link between skin sensitivity, metabolism and body electricities to show that comfort identities are scientifically serious and not frivolous. Comfort identities are minorities who make a unusual choices of costume.
Neil Gardner
This exploratory study aimed to address two questions: (1) What does touch mean between parents and their children with autism on completion of a massage intervention? (2) Do parents feel that their relationship with their children has changed on completion of a massage intervention? Fourteen parents agreed to be interviewed. Data were collected before the massage intervention (baseline), immediately after the massage intervention and 16 weeks from baseline and were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. At baseline, parents felt distressed that they felt unable to get 'close' to their children. After the intervention, parents reported feeling physically and emotionally closer to their children. Children expressed a range of cues to initiate massage at home. These benefits were maintained at follow-up for parents who continued to use massage at home. In conclusion, giving massage to children with autism may help to enhance the emotional bond between parent and child.
Lesley A. Cullen Powell et al
Your child may be touch sensitive if he: Reacts strongly to sensations that most people don't notice. Tries to avoid tactile experiences. Gets distracted because of the things that are touching him are bothering him. Insists on having certain textures of clothing. Makes you cut all the tags and labels out of his clothing. Won't eat certain foods because of their texture. Craves certain sensations the he finds calming, like rocking or firm pressure. Fights irrationally when you are combing or shampooing his hair, cutting his fingernails, or brushing his teeth.
ADD/ADHD Advances
The tactile defensive individual who experiences this extreme sensory registration can have great distress in daily living. This discomfort may be compared to the experience of trimming your fingernails too close. The raw sensation experienced by nerves that are no longer protected by the fingernail can be very irritating. This is similar to the way that a person with extreme touch sensitivity may experience sensations, except for two important differences. First, in the case of the person who just clipped their nails, the discomfort comes because the nerves that have been sheltered are now exposed making the person acutely aware of sensations he does not ordinarily feel. The nerve function is normal, but the experience is abnormal. For a person who is overly sensitive to touch the experiences are normal and the nerve function is abnormal. Second, the person who has clipped his nails will soon become accustomed to the sensation, while the person with the over sensitive system does not accommodate to the sensations no matter how much exposure he has. Because of this he may feel bombarded by dozens of unpleasant sensory experiences on a daily basis.
Parents suggest sensory integration activities for children with tactile defensiveness.
Parents of children born prematurely have found these activities useful for tactile defensiveness.
Feeding difficulties for infants with tactile defensiveness may include a hyperactive gag reflex that makes it uncomfortable for the baby to draw the nipple deeply enough into his mouth to breasted effectively, and poor sucking quality and rhythmicity.
Catherine Watson Genna
A child with tactile defensiveness should never be forced to touch anything they do not want to, as this will cause further apprehension and avoidance. It is up to us to encourage, explain, understand and communicate with the child as we attempt to introduce touch sensations to them in a safe and non-threatening way.
Tactile defensiveness refers to a pattern of observable behavioural and emotional responses, which are aversive, negative and out of proportion, to certain types of tactile stimuli that most people would find to be non-painful.
Sidney Chu
The root cause is neurological dysorganization in the midbrain region of the brain which is largely responsible for filtering incoming stimuli, and, may not adequately screen out all extraneous tactile stimulation.
Toni Hager
Touch and its various possible meanings have become a symbol for me of a long struggle to reject other people's interpretations until I found something that rang true for me.

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