Tactile hyposensitivity

What is tactile hyposensitivity?

Tactile hyposensitivity means being less sensitive to touch. This can mean that the person needs stronger sensations or more frequent contact with their skin to feel comfortable. Autistic people have hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities more often, but people without any particular developmental diagnosis can also have these conditions.

What is tactile hypersensitivity?

Tactile hyposensitivity is a sensory disorder in which there is little or no response to tactile stimuli, and the brain is unable to interpret information from touch. The other term for tactile hyposensitivity is tactile hypoesthesia. This can lead to difficulties in sensing details, textures, temperatures and pressure.

This can make people feel clumsy when touching others, or make them need to touch people, textures or objects a lot and more strongly or more frequently. They create tactile stimulation to compensate for the lack of information from the senses.

Symptoms of tactile hyposensitivity

Consequences of tactile hyposensitivity

The consequences of tactile hyposensitivity vary greatly from one person to the next, depending on age, skills, environment and the tools at their disposal.

What to do if tactile hypersensitivity is a problem?

Respect and choice

It’s very important to respect the person and ask them what they prefer in situations that are uncomfortable for them. For example, in cases of physical contact with other people, the person might prefer to clap a person’s hand rather than shake it, they’re the ones who know what they are comfortable with.


The person’s entourage should be informed of the situation and take it into account when there is touching involved. This can make the autistic person’s day-to-day life much more comfortable.


It’s all about being creative and proactive, identifying the problem and finding ways to lessen its effects. Sensory objects and tools can be very useful in helping people to regulate themselves.


The brain may need to create sensations as it is not receiving enough. Tactile sensory seeking can include all sorts of touches that may feel strange or different. If a sensory seeking behaviour is not inappropriate (e.g. indecent) or dangerous, then it is unnecessary and even harmful to prevent it.


In case of distress, or if the solutions put in place don't work, it's imperative to consult someone who specializes in sensory hypo-sensitivities.


Cascio, C. J., Foss-Feig, J. H., Heacock, J. L., Newsom, C. R., & Cowan, R. L. (2012). Diminished sensitivity of the cortical somatosensory system in autism. Human brain mapping, 33(11), 2521-2533. Cette étude a examiné la sensibilité tactile dans le cortex somatosensoriel chez les autistes. Les résultats ont montré une diminution de la sensibilité tactile dans le cortex somatosensoriel chez les participants autistes.

Valérie Jessica Laporte