What is Touch Sensitivity in Children?

Tactile Sensitivity is often reported in children or adults with autism. Children and adults with tactile sensitivity may show the following sensory processing symptoms.

  • They don’t want to wear shoes or strain.
  • Avoiding dry tissue such as finger paint, glue (glue, uhu) play dough and sometimes sand.
  • Unrest in food tissues, including avoiding mixed tissues (eg lasagna, fruit yogurt).
  • They do not like to hug or kiss, they can erase kisses.
  • Difficulty in brushing teeth.
  • Difficulties in haircuts and hair combing.
  • Difficult to cut fingernails and hands.
  • They do not like the feelings of clothing labels.

What Causes Tactile Advocacy?

In the touch system; there are 3 kinds of touch sense input. These are light touch, distinctive touch and pressure touch.

Types of Touch

In addition to light touch, distinctive touch and pressure touch; skin also receives information about pain, temperature and vibration. Mild touch and pain stimulates the body about potential threats. Therefore it is often called Protective emotions.

What is Touch Sensitivity in Children?

What is Touch Sensitivity in Children?


They send sensory information to the senses of distinct touch by a different nerve path. The nerve path is like a path through which sensory signals travel to the brain. Usually, these protective sensations stimulate the brain that something has come into contact with the skin. The brain receives additional information from the distinctive touch path to let it know what it is.

For example: If you touch something hot, the brain immediately accepts the feeling of pain. As a result, what the brain does in the body is to move your hand away from this object. It then receives extra sensory information from the differential touch path. This allows you to learn more about where the pain is and also gives you a feeling of burns. The brain receives a different sensory information in every way.

What can I do to help a child or adults with tactile advocacy?

  • Warn before touching the child. For example; “I’ll just rub the eyelashes on your face.”  “I’ll just fix your collar.”
  • Apply a tighter pressure children touching, tighten or damaging them. But avoid being too light on your touch.
  • Avoid tickling children or adults. Sometimes touch-sensitive children laugh when they are tickled, but watch for a tense smile indicating that they are uncomfortable.
  • Oral activities may be particularly helpful in regulation of chewing and sucking.
  • For some children, the Willbarger protocol makes a difference. Hard bristle brushes are used to reduce touch sensitivity when applying this protocol. It must be guided by a trained physiotherapist or occupational therapist and is not the right solution for every child. It is recommended that you talk to experts about the best option for your child.
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