'Kiss, cuddle, squeeze': the experiences and meaning of touch among parents of children with autism attending a Touch Therapy Programme.
J Child Health Care. 2002 Sep;6(3):171-81. PMID: 12224834
The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences and meaning of touch between parents and children with autism before and after attending a Touch Therapy Programme. The sample comprised 12 parents (1 father and 11 mothers) of children (1 female and 11 male) with autism. Parents were interviewed before and immediately after the 8-week programme. Pre-programme results suggested that children were controlling the experience of touch. Parents felt 'hurt' in response to the 'aloof nature of autism, and natural parenting instincts (e.g. spontaneous cuddles) were restricted. Post-programme results suggested that children appeared to tolerate touch. Parents reported that routine tasks (e.g. dressing) were accomplished more easily and that children appeared generally more relaxed. Parents reported feeling 'closer' to their children and felt that the touch therapy had opened a communication channel between themselves and their children.