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Hyposensitivity to Touch & Movement: Definition & Overview

Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Did you know that hyposensitivity to touch and movement can be caused by neurological disorders? Learn more about the signs and causes of hyposensitivity to touch and movement. Then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition and Example

James is a 4-year-old boy. He likes to run around the house and put random things in his mouth, which his mother finds quite dangerous. James touches everything that he can get his hands on, including sharp and dangerous objects like knives. His mother has to take special care to make sure that there are no sharp or pointy objects lying around the house. James likes to run everywhere instead of walking and has trouble sitting still. He also has a high pain tolerance and will often injure himself without noticing it. In this example, James is showing signs of hyposensitivity to touch and movement.

Hyposensitivity to touch and movement refers to low or abnormally decreased sensitivity to motion and sense of touch. We all crave sensation. We like how certain fabrics feel against our skin. We like receiving hugs and kisses from people we love. We also like feeling the breeze of the wind, spinning around, running, and jumping. So do people who are hyposensitive to touch and movement. They just need a lot more sensation than a normal person does. Whereas a normal person would spin in circles for a short time, a hyposensitive person would spin for longer periods of time. Whereas a normal person would be okay with touching a few things, a hyposensitive person would want to touch everything around them.

Signs of Hyposensitivity to Touch and Movement

What are the signs of hyposensitivity to touch and movement? Let's look at our earlier example with James. James showed several signs of hyposensitivity to touch and movement, including a need to touch everything, having a high tolerance for pain, enjoying putting objects in his mouth, frequently injuring himself without registering it, having an inability to sit still, and enjoying fast movement. All of these actions are signs that James isn't as sensitive to motion or touch as a normal person would be. In order to get the stimulation he craves, James needs more sensation. Because of his decreased sensitivity, James is not always aware of when he hurts himself because he is not registering the pain like a person normally would.

Other signs of hyposensitivity to touch and movement include:

  • Seeking out surfaces and textures that provide strong tactile feedback
  • Decreased awareness of being touched or bumped unless done with extreme force or intensity
  • Decreased awareness of dirty hands or face
  • Often hurts others or pets while playing without knowing it
  • Repetitively touching soothing objects
  • Enjoys and seeks out messy play
  • Enjoys spinning for extended periods of time, and can do so without getting dizzy
  • Participate in thrill-seeking behaviors, even dangerous ones
  • Enjoys fast, intense, and scary rides at the amusement park

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