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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 131-132

Lockdowns turn-on the touch-me-not sensation in children with autism spectrum disorder

1 Department of Special Education, APL Global International School, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Rehabilitation Science, Holy Cross College, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission26-Oct-2021
Date of Decision13-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance20-Jan-2022
Date of Web Publication15-Mar-2022

Correspondence Address:
Mr. Srikanth Pallerla
Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jihs.jihs_31_21

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How to cite this article:
Wilson J, Christopher S, Pallerla S. Lockdowns turn-on the touch-me-not sensation in children with autism spectrum disorder. J Integr Health Sci 2021;9:131-2

How to cite this URL:
Wilson J, Christopher S, Pallerla S. Lockdowns turn-on the touch-me-not sensation in children with autism spectrum disorder. J Integr Health Sci [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Jun 10];9:131-2. Available from: https://www.jihs.in/text.asp?2021/9/2/131/339657

Dear Sir,

Across the life span of an individual, the sense of touch plays an integral role in the biological, cognitive, and social development by enabling us to perceive and process information about the world. Touch is a proximal sense as it is significant to help us to respond to different sensations such as pain, pressure, tension, temperature, texture, shape, weight, contours, and vibration through the skin. Touch significantly contributes into the factors that foster development of attachment in humans.[1] Behavioral disturbances and inability to cope with psychological stress are observed in children due to disruption of educational interventions and lack of real-life experiences during the pandemic situation. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) become a vulnerable population during the epidemic circumstances as the most common neurodevelopmental conditions globally with an incidence of 1% are pretentious from health-related disasters.[2]

Dr. A. J. Ayres, an American Occupational Therapist in the 1960s, first discovered that children with ASD feel physiologically affected by touch and get scared or uncomfortable, thereby use a flight-or-fight response.[3] Withdrawing when being touched, refusing to eat certain “textured” foods and/or to wear certain types of clothing, complaining about having one's hair or face washed, avoiding getting one's hands dirty (i.e., glue, sand, mud, finger-paint), and using one's finger tips rather than whole hands to manipulate objects are the behaviours demonstrated by children with ASD. A dysfunctional tactile system can be very interpreting as it may lead to a misperception of touch and/or pain (hyper-or hyposensitive).

Tactile dysfunction in children with ASD may lead to self-imposed isolation, general irritability, distractibility, and hyperactivity. Social development of children with autism involves a delay due to problems related with touch and children refuse “touch” on different parts of their body, struggle with it, and parents end by avoiding it. Jerger et al. found that problems with touch are linearly related to delays of early self-regulation, hence in children with autism, the first-year self-regulation milestones are globally delayed.[4] Mutluer et al. highlights that the children with ASD are unable to comprehend, follow, and benefit from the mandated preventative measures broadcasted to the overall population because of the challenges in abstract thinking and interpretation of the nonvisible and nonconcrete notion of the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] Insistence on the rules and hygiene measures can lead to the genesis of frequent handwashing behavior and evading physical contact with people or surfaces in children with ASD. Home confinement measures for children with ASD can reduce the sensory overload and brings down the social anxiety.

Need of the hour calls for innovative approaches and the continuity of remediation for care and support to be emphasized for children with ASD. Responses to specifically address the mental health of quarantined children and designing holistic intervention with precise supports to mitigate the effects of extended seclusion in children with ASD. Seek professional input on treatment strategies available to avoid hyper-stimulation and hypo-stimulation of touch in children during the pandemic.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Duhn L. The importance of touch in the development of attachment. Adv Neonatal Care 2010;10:294-300.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mutluer T, Doenyas C, Aslan Genc H. Behavioral implications of the COVID-19 process for autism spectrum disorder, and individuals' comprehension of and reactions to the pandemic conditions. Front Psychiatry 2020;11:561882.  Back to cited text no. 2
Ayres AJ, Robbins J. Sensory integration and the child: Understanding hidden sensory challenges. Western Psychological Services. 2005, ISBN-10: 0874244374, Torrance.  Back to cited text no. 3
Jerger KK, Lundegard L, Piepmeier A, Faurot K, Ruffino A, Jerger MA, et al. Neural mechanisms of qigong Sensory Training massage for children with autism spectrum disorder: A feasibility study. Glob Adv Health Med [Internet]. 2018;7:2164956118769006. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2164956118769006.  Back to cited text no. 4


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