Touch and pressure (proprioception)

  • Our bodies have different sensors for touch and for pressure.
  • Proprioception: messages from our joints and muscles which provide information about the movement and position of our body, especially our limbs, independent of vision.
  • Many autistic people are under-sensitive to proprioception – their brain is not giving them a clear picture of what they are doing.
  • This also affects their sense of boundaries, what is ‘me’ and ‘not me’.
  • People will try and give themselves massive proprioceptive inputs by running, climbing, rocking, jumping, banging, biting, scratching their hands, tip-toe walking and so on in order to know what they are doing.
  • Pressure garments can help, as can providing the person with strong proprioceptive inputs such as trampolining or vibration. Such inputs are not recreational, to provide meaningful proprioceptive input to the individual they need to be offered three or four times a day.


This series of short films shows an extended conversation  between Phoebe Caldwell (DSc, Expert Responsive Communication Practitioner who has worked with autistic people for 45 years) and Janet Gurney (BA, PGCT, Director of Training for Us in a Bus, a service based in Surrey that supports adults and children with profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism).