Occupational Therapy

Touch Sensitivity

Every child has a different tolerance to sensory input. Activities to develop tolerance should be introduced gradually and responses should be monitored and adjusted as required.

While these activities aim to reduce sensitivity to touch, it is important that the network around your child understand their perceived pain and tolerance, and manage their expectations. This should be done alongside your child's Occupational Therapy team. It is also important that these strategies are introduced with an element of choice and not forced onto your child. 

Touch & Deep Pressure Activities

Both deep and light pressure touch can be alerting and regulating. It can be slow and firm, or light and tickly. Sudden changes in touch can be alerting for your child.

It is important that these activities are introduced with an element of choice and not forced onto your child. Start with activities they would like the most.

It’s also important to monitor your child's arousal level and adjust the input if they are becoming too overstimulated.

  • Massage. Especially on the back and feet that finishes with light tickly movements. Show your child how to give themselves a massage if they are able to. Use deep pressure massages moving hands ‘down and out'. You could rub hands their hands with different textured material such as velvet, netting, wool, fur or feathers.
  • Introduce dry exploratory play such as trays of rice, lentils, and beads. Keep an eye on your child if you think they may mouth or swallow the objects.
  • Try wet or messy play activities such as, finger painting, sand, playdough or shaving foam.
  • Heavy work activities such as pushing, pulling, wheelbarrow walking, jumping on a trampoline or carrying heavy objects.
  • Activities in bare feet, such as walking on sand, grass or other textured surfaces

Reducing Sensitivities

Allow extra time for the activities and give your child as much choice and control as possible. If they find everyday textures and forms of touch uncomfortable, this is likely to increase when they are stressed.

Please be aware that for children and young people deep pressure or light touch can be triggering for them and therefore it would be best to use a different type of strategy. You can speak to your child's Occupational Therapy team about this.

Who Can Help?

Children's Occupational Therapists work with children from birth to 18 (or 19 if attending Complex Need schools). If your child or young person is under the Occupational Therapy teams, you can speak to them about any questions you may have.

If you think your child requires specialist support, please speak to their GP.

If you have any questions about your child or young person's general health or development, you can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

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