In working with my daughter’s therapists, I have heard too many times “if you have met one child with autism, you have met one child with autism.” Because autism is a wide spectrum disorder, no two kids with autism are alike. She is my snowflake! Unique and special in her own little, 3 foot tall, rambunctious way! Although unique, what works for my daughter may work for another child. So, I am going to share one of her favorite things that helped open the door to her curious little mind.
Beans! Yes, I said beans (raw kidney beans not lunch)! Give my daughter her tub of beans and she’s like me with a pound of crab legs – in heaven! Her occupational therapist used beans to work on her tactile sensitivity. At first she was hesitant to touch them. When we inserted a favorite toy and a scoop, VOILA, it became her new favorite activity and tactile desensitization (sensory box) we use daily to help with my sometimes overly sensitive girl!
Tactile sensitivity is a sensitivity to touch that can cause a child to feel bad or strange even pained causing the child to avoid it if possible. A simple hug, kiss, tag in a shirt or seams on socks can send an autistic child into a frenzy. Because tactile oversensitivity interferes with the development of fine motor and gross motor skills, it is important to seek the help of an occupational therapist. When a child is diagnosed with tactile sensitivity, an occupational therapist will form a plan for tactile desensitization. Therapy sessions occur in a sensory rich environment where the occupational therapist works with a child doing fun activities to challenge them . The activities are usually designed so the child feels happy and proud of their accomplishment. A child with tactile defensiveness shouldn’t be forced to touch anything they do not want to! If forced, the child will become fearful and avoid the activity in the future. Case in point: my daughter still will not play with shaving cream because I made her to touch it. With that said, ease in to any new sensory activities with caution and patience.
Here is a link I found helpful when searching for ways (at home) to help my daughter who was sensitive to certain textures.
If left untreated, tactile sensitivity can seriously interfere with a child’s quality of life. For more information on tactile sensitivity, I recommend the book Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight by Sharon Heller.