Autism and Skin Sensitivity

Greetings Earthlings! 🙂

So today I spent much of my time screaming inside my head- “Why does this outfit itch so much???!!!” 😛

Image result for itchy gif

This is a fairly common complaint for autists when it comes to clothing.

A single sharp fiber in your skinny jeans, an irritating label on your neck, a twisted bra- the niggling is a killer to the autistic brain!

When my skin is irritated, I find it very difficult to concentrate on much else until the offending stimulus is removed. It drives me insane- especially if I’m not in a position to remove or adjust the offending item of clothing. I’ve often had to find creative ways to navigate clothing irritation when out in public such as well placed blister plasters (I did this to the irritating clasp of a lanyard once!) and toilet roll to create barriers against the fabric!

Needs must after all! 😉


But is my skin really this sensitive?

According to science, the answer is yes!

Research suggests that gene mutations cause problems for the sensory nerves in our hands, legs, arms, fingers and of course, the skin covering them. Mutations cause these nerves to be excessively sensitive- described by scientists as having the volume turned up to the max setting. When these nerves relay sensory information back to the brain, the brain feels the touch of certain stimuli at a heightened, exaggerated level.

Hence my internal screams! 😛

Another study, which tested the response of autists and neurotypicals to sensory stimuli (e.g. a scratchy wool jumper) in a brain scanner, found that the autistic brain reacts more strongly. The primary cortex of the brain (involved in sensory processing) and the amygdala (involved in emotional regulation) were both hyperactive during this experiment, suggesting that autists a) process sensory input differently, and b) struggle to regulate their emotional response to stimuli.

So what can you do to help an autist with sensitive skin?

This is a tough one to advise. Sensitivities vary from person to person. Some may favour loose clothing, others enjoy the comfort of tight clothes which provide calming deep pressure. In my experience, the best tip that I can offer is to use a seam ripper to properly remove labels (the remnants of the tag can be just as irritating). After that, trial and error is the best way to find out what works for you/or your child 🙂

Some days, sensitive skin can be a pain (especially where undergarments are concerned 😛 ), but hey- it also makes puppies all the fluffier! 😉

Image result for petting fluffy puppy gif

Enjoy the weekend everyone! 🙂


6 thoughts on “Autism and Skin Sensitivity

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  1. I was curious because i find my skin is actually tender from nothing or i suppose despite not doing anything wrong (using sensitive skin products, detergents, dress etc.) still my skin actually hurts from sensation often. It’s very distracting sometimes when I’m trying to study. My skin is so soft and so its extremely sensitive to any bit of touch. I always said that soft touches make me skittish where as if someone i know would like to touch me they should just go for it harshly. I don’t mind that oddly enough. A hug or touch will stay in my head uncomfortably when gentle but if they ask to hug me and give a firm one it can be a great feeling. Same with any touch. I thought i was crazy. Its a odd request but those close to me now know and that they have to ask in general because of how “eh!” i get. Haha, but now with age, i don’t care about telling strangers to not touch me. As a kid it’s hard to put words to that appropriately and i often would be labeled as disrespectful when i stated things. I guess i’ve learned it’s the lack of tone to speech that make everything i say feel off to others. *sigh* at least its not just me and i’m not crazy after all. Great article was a comfort for me on this sensory issue of a day. (I’ve been challenging myself by getting dressed in clothes that aren’t pj’s because it’s been years i only really wear pj’s, but i love fashion and have so much stuff.)

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