Originally published on Nov. 26, 2017.


Continuing our series of posts on the tactile system....

In our last post we talked about how an over-sensitivity to touch might show up in your child's behaviour. This time, we are looking at signs that may indicate that your child is under-sensitive (hyposensitive) to touch.

A difficulty in sensory processing may be apparent in a child's motor skills, and/or in their emotional and behavioural responses. There are many areas in which tactile difficulties might show up. Because my posts are more feeding-oriented in origin, I'll focus a little more on signs you might see in that area. Sensory processing is very complicated, so no one post or list will ever quite capture your child. That is why a good quality assessment of sensory processing is important. As we've discussed previously, a child with a general pattern of under-sensitivity may react passively (not acting to address their needs), or actively (seeking out sensation to meet their needs).

Under-sensitivity:

  • Poor awareness of food in the mouth- poor oral skills, poor chewing skills, gagging (there are lots of physical reasons why children might show these too)
  • Cramming food into their mouth
  • May enjoy very highly flavoured foods, or tend to like highly textured food (like crunchy things)
  • Unaware of food on their face or left in their mouth
  • May drool with little awareness
  • Poor awareness of being dirty
  • Low pain awareness
  • Seems unaware of temperature
  • May seek out tactile experiences- e.g. rubbing their face against the carpet, mouthing excessively
  • May have a poor sense of personal space
  • May eat non-food items

If your child is showing these signs, they might benefit from working with a Speech and Language Therapist with the appropriate sensory training, and/or an appropriately trained Occupational Therapist.

Coming up- Look out for posts on practical ideas to support your child who is under- or over- sensitive to touch.

Posts from Find the Key Speech Therapy are intended for information. They are not inetnded to, and cannot, take the place of advice from an appropriately qualified Speech and Language Therapist who knows your child. Find the Key Speech Therapy does not take responsibility for the use of any advice without appropriate professional guidance.