Touch. It’s such a key part of human life. Parents cuddle their children close. Siblings curl up together. Studies show that a growing child who is deprived of touch ends up with challenging issues. Our brains are hard-wired to crave and respond to that touch.
But what happens when our sensors go awry? When the feeling of that touch can be irritating or even painful?
This is what can happen to someone on the autism or Asperger’s spectrum.
It’s almost like a push-pull can be happening. The person wants to be loved and cared for. At the same time, the physical sensations are painful. At some point the child learns that life is just wrong. They have to avoid touch. That can leave them feeling frustrated and like something is missing. That stress just exacerbates the situation.
The touch issues aren’t just about human hands. It can be anything. I know many people on the autism spectrum who absolutely hate tags in clothing. They are like water torture. Fortunately in modern times many clothing designers have stopped having tags. But there’s still plenty of other physical things to cause pain.
Even the old corduroy seats on cars could be awful for children wearing skirts or shorts.
If you’re on the spectrum, or know someone who is, be attentive to these tactile issues. There’s only so much a brain can take in a day. If all of the brain’s power is on fighting off the irritation of a texture, that leaves little left to handle the other problems in life.
Avoid detergents with irritants. Have allergen-free sheets with a soothing texture. Try out different types of clothing to find one which is comfortable without irritation. Maybe there are shirts without seams. Collars without tags.
Every little bit helps.