I received a rare gift the other day. We were at Emory’s house visiting him and helping with his yard. When it came time to leave, I asked, as I always do, if Emory would give me a “love”.
Emory surprised me by granting me a full fledged hug with his arms around me, his head on my shoulder, and remaining that way for several minutes (not seconds).
I have known for years that hugs and autism do not go well together. As a child the closest thing to a hug I could get was when I came up behind Emory, put my arms around him from behind, and squeezed him. This is a “deep pressure’ hug that Emory truly enjoys to this day.
When Emory granted me relaxed hug from the front, and enjoyed it so much he did not want to move, I considered it a great gift and I did not want it to end.
The autism that Emory lives with is very sensory. All five of his senses are extremely sensitive. It was the sense of “touch” that first told me there was something different about this child. By the time he was three, he would actually jump when I touched him. It was like I had given him an electric shock or startled him.
Emory has gone through many therapies to desensitize his sense of touch and they have been beneficial! At this point in time, there are still areas of his body on which touch is still extremely unpleasant to Emory. Even the touch of cloth against his skin or a toothbrush in his mouth.
We continue to be aware of sensory input and do not touch Emory a lot. We do touch him, but we are continually aware that this is not a pleasant thing for Emory and abide by that awareness.
We do endeavor to learn more about desensitization so that we can help lessen the discomfort for Emory in bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene.
And I continue to remind him how much I enjoyed that hug and give thanks for those moments of bliss.
If you know of other ways to desensitize the sense of touch, please leave me a comment below. I would love to hear from you!