Sensory - Touch

Touch (Hypersensitive)

 

Does not like hugs and kisses.

 

  1. Ensure people respect their personal space.

  2. Warn them before you are about to touch them and ask if it’s ok.

  3. Don’t touch them from behind without warning.

  4. Let them be in control (if appropriate).  Let them hold your hand instead of you holding theirs.

  5. Invite touch i.e. high five (let them touch your hand) or hugs (let them hug you on their terms)

  6. When touching, use firm pressure not light touch.

  7. Other deep pressure techniques such as a tight hug may help them to handle touch a little better.  Deep pressure touch may have a calming effect on the nervous system.

 

Dislikes messy hands/face.

 

  1. Have a means of cleaning their hands/face close to hand i.e. wipes/cloth/soapy water.

  2. Gradually introduce new textures i.e. play-doh, feathers, slime.  Do not force them to touch any texture, allow them to do this when they are ready.

  3. If they will not touch new textures, introduce rolling cars through it/moving it around with scoops etc to reduce fear.

 

May feel light touch intensely, it may hurt when someone brushes past them.

 

  1. Warn them before you are about to touch them and ask if it’s ok.

  2. Don’t touch them from behind without warning.

  3. Let them be in control (if appropriate).  Let them hold your hand instead of you holding theirs.

  4. Invite touch i.e. high five (let them touch your hand) or hugs (let them hug you on their terms)

  5. When touching, use firm pressure not light touch.

  6. Other deep pressure techniques such as a tight hug may help them to handle touch a little better. Deep pressure touch may have a calming effect on the nervous system.

 

Writing may be physically painful.

 

  1. Try different types of pens/pencils.  Pens/pencils with grips may help.

  2. Allow them to type/dictate work.

 

May dislike certain clothing, hats, socks, shoes.  They may also struggle with tags and fastenings.

 

  1. Chose soft breathable fabrics. 

  2. Find alternatives i.e. if the individual finds zips uncomfortable choose pull on tops and pull up trousers/skirts.

  3. Allow them to choose clothes, shoes etc that are comfortable to them if appropriate. 

  4. Reinforce appropriate and non-appropriate clothing i.e. being naked in the street is not appropriate.

  5. Turning clothes inside out, removing tags and labels may help.

 

May constantly touch soothing objects.

 

  1. Have soft fabrics in the room.  This may be bedding, cushions, soft toys etc.

  2. Have a sensory bag of soothing objects.

  3. Have a soothing object small enough to fit in their pocket that can be taken anywhere.

 

May dislike having anything on their hands and feet.

 

  1. Allow them to go barefoot when appropriate.

  2. Allow them to wear shoes that are comfortable to them. 

  3. Reinforce appropriate and non-appropriate footwear i.e. being bare foot in the rain is not appropriate.

 

May struggle with having hair combed, washed and cut.

 

  1. Warn them before you are about to touch them and ask if it’s ok.

  2. Let them know exactly what is going to happen and how long it will take.

  3. Use positive reinforcements and rewards if appropriate.

  4. Use distractions and make the experience fun.

  5. When touching, use firm pressure not light touch.

  6. Briskly rubbing the skin before touch may dull the sensation for a while.  This may help with haircuts etc.

  7. For haircuts some people can’t tolerate clippers but can cope with scissors.

  8. Allow them to complete activities themselves so they can control the pressure i.e. combing hair.

 

May struggle with cleaning their teeth or dentist touching their teeth.

 

  1. Allow them to complete activities themselves so they can control the pressure i.e. tooth brushing.

  2. Try different types of toothbrushes i.e. smaller heads/soft bristles.

  3. If going to a new dentist, you may want to show pictures, videos or visit beforehand so they are more familiar with the environment.

  4. Prepare before visiting the dentist. Explain what will happen, how long it will take, what can be expected, what is expected of them and what others will be doing.

  5. Use Social Stories™ that describe a specific social situation that will be coming up.  They will usually include who will be there, what will happen, when it will happen, why it is happening and how it will happen.  This may include role play.

  6. Use Visual Schedules to add structure and predictability through preparation.  This may include ‘now’ and ‘next’.

  7. Use timers to indicate when it will be over.

  8. Take item with you that will distract and comfort the individual.

  9. For some individuals the only option at the dentists will be sedation.

 

May struggle with certain food textures being in their mouth.

 

  1. Try to introduce new foods very slowly.

  2. Add small amounts of different foods on their plate as well as foods they are comfortable with.  If they cannot cope with new food on their plate, place them on the table instead.

  3. Place food on the table buffet style and allow them to choose what they would like to try.

  4. Use Social Stories™ to encourage trying new foods.

  5. Model trying new foods yourself.

  6. Allow them to touch and play with new foods and textures.  This may take a while before this is tolerated.

 

May struggle with washing.

 

  1. Allow them to wash themselves so they can control the pressure.

  2. If they dislike baths, try the shower.

  3. If they struggle with water, start by introducing water play in a small bowl and gradually increase the water when tolerated.

  4. Make it fun.  Introduce toys/bubbles etc.

 

May dislike having people too close.

 

  1. Ensure people respect their personal space.

  2. Avoid crowds when possible.

 

Dislikes touching new textures or struggles with touching certain textures.

 

  1. Gradually introduce new textures i.e. play-doh, feathers, slime.  Do not force them to touch any texture, allow them to do this when they are ready.

  2. If they will not touch new textures, introduce rolling cars through it/moving it around with scoops etc to reduce fear.

  3. Allow them to sit on rug/chair/blanket if the flooring is uncomfortable for them.

 

May dislike the feel of rain, wind, sand, grass etc.  These feelings may even hurt.

 

  1. Gradually introduce textures i.e. grass, sand etc.  Do not force them to touch any texture, allow them to do this when they are ready.

  2. If they will not touch new textures, introduce rolling cars through it/moving it around with scoops etc to reduce fear.

  3. Use protective clothing in bad weather if it is the feel of rain/wind that they dislike.  Raincoats, umbrellas, balaclavas may help.

  4. Try ear defenders if they struggle with the sound of rain/wind.

 

Touch (Hyposensitive)

 

May enjoy bear hugs and deep pressure.

 

  1. Weighted blankets, vests may help.

  2. Carrying a heavy backpack.

  3. Massage or tight hugs.

  4. Deep pressure touch may have a calming effect on the nervous system.

  5. Roll in blanket tightly.

 

Likes to touch everything.

 

  1. Tell them which items around the home, school, work are hot and cold.  Labels with words or symbols may help.

  2. Keep dangerous objects out of reach.

 

May be too forceful when touching others i.e. hug too tightly/leans on others.

 

  1. Replace challenging behaviour with more appropriate ones i.e. pushing others, replace with pushing against walls.

  2. A cushioned area that can be used as a ‘crash pad’ may be helpful.

 

Doesn’t notice is someone bumps into them.

 

  1. Keep an eye out for injuries as they may not even notice they have hurt themselves

 

Seeks out messy play.

 

  1. Encourage new textures i.e. play-doh, feathers, slime. 

 

May like heavy objects on them i.e. heavy blanket.

 

  1. Weighted blankets, vests may help.

  2. Carrying a heavy backpack.

  3. Massage or tight hugs.

  4. Deep pressure touch may have a calming effect on the nervous system.

  5. Roll in blanket tightly.

 

May not notice if their hands or face is dirty.

 

  1. Encourage them to check their appearance after eating etc.

 

May constantly touch soothing objects.

 

  1. Have soft fabrics in the room.  This may be bedding, cushions, soft toys etc.

  2. Have a sensory bag of soothing objects.

 

May have a high pain threshold and not realise if they are hurt.

 

  1. Keep an eye out for injuries as they may not even notice they have hurt themselves

 

May not recognise when they are hot or cold and may struggle to choose weather appropriate clothing.

 

  1. Help to regulate their temperature by checking if they appear hot/cold.  Explain why they may need to remove or add layers.

  2. Discuss what the weather is like, what clothing may be appropriate and explain why.

  3. Choose weather appropriate clothing, if unable to do so themselves.

 

May not recognise if something if hot or cold i.e. oven.

 

  1. Tell them which items around the home, school, work are hot and cold.  Labels with words or symbols may help.

  2. Keep dangerous objects out of reach.

 

Smears faeces as they enjoy the texture.

 

  1. For smearing offer similar textures to touch such as play-doh, gelli baff and corn flour with water.

  2. Use a Social Story™ to explain the need for good hygiene.

  3. Try to show no reaction when they smear.

  4. Rule out any physical ailments.

  5. Try restrictive clothing such as bodysuits that don’t have poppers (if they are still in nappies).

 

Chews on everything, including non edible items.

 

  1. Chewellery such as chewigems enable them to chew without damaging clothing etc.  There are various types including necklaces, bangles and chubes (that can be attached to the strings of a hoody).

  2. Oral stimulation such as chewing gum (if appropriate), blowing bubbles, drinking through a straw may help.

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