Understanding Tactile Defensiveness and Autism

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Understanding Obsessions, routines, and repetitive behaviors

Having a child with autism is hard for families in the beginning, but you have to understand more about autism to understand your child better, therefore understanding the autism spectrum and their repetitive behaviors.

Autistic children have unique facial movements, or mannerisms that seem unusual to others. They may include: hand flapping, twiddling fingers, tip toe, rocking, jumping, spinning, head banging or body movements. Preoccupation with an object or its parts is also a part of their repetitive behaviors. A texture, or an interesting noise (like birds chirping) fixates their senses; some children are really preoccupied with these behaviors, making it hard to find other interests.

The interests of a child with autism are restricted, and sometimes compulsive. They usually are fixated on certain characters, activities or toys, even if there are others available. Preschoolers will fixate on Thomas the tank engine, building train tracks, and videos. If the toy becomes lost or removed the child gets upset. Older verbal aspergers spectrum children will have fascinations with a particular subject, or things like a computer, or a video game they play repeatedly.

Resistance to change in routine

Our world is confusing to the autistic child with everything going on around them. It is full of events, sights, sounds, places. The boundaries are not clear, but they have to learn to adapt; they have to find order, routine, times, routes. Having rituals with the same pattern, will reduce fear of change and have less chaotic episodes.

Changes to their physical environment, and what is familiar to them may become too enduring for them. The absence/presence of a family member, changing bedtime/mealtimes, rearranging furniture or their room, changing classrooms, all affect the asperger and tactile defensiveness of the autistic child. Even changes like birthdays, or holiday events can cause unexpected changes and stress to the autistic child.

The autistic child needs a structured environment to help cope with anxiety, and boredom. Having computer time during lunchtime may be more appropriate for the autistic child because it may reduce his stress at this time of day, and calm him down. When bored or stressed find calming activities for them to do to lessen the anxiety.

Find things that impact the child’s sensory problems, and try to reduce them in the environment , an example would be soaps or noises that annoy them. Lessening noise, smells will help them to cope better in their environment.

Research has shown that these obsessions and routines also prove to be a coping mechanism for autism and tactile defensiveness. These changes help the aspergers child deal with stress and anxiety better. Finding activities or outlets to let go of the stress and anxiety will help them to manage their life better, and possibly reduce some of these behaviors. Changes are unavoidable, but if made slowly seem to work best with the autistic spectrum child. If the child’s behaviors become dangerous to others get help from a child guidance counselor.