Body Brushing Your Autistic Child

By Janessa

Majority of autistic children have a case of sensory integration disorder. This afferent condition is the outcome of the brain’s inability to consolidate information from the five basic sensory systems in the body. This often results to a sensory overload which could sometimes lead to a temper tantrum.

When you notice that your child is feeling overwhelmed from too much sensory stimulation, you can relax his nervous system by using a technique called body brushing, also known as dry brushing. This technique will provide your autistic child with the same sensation of movements or stimulus which will make him feel comfortable. This technique can be learned from an occupational therapist. If you are on the lookout for one, you can ask your child’s physician to refer you to one.

To perform the body brushing techniques, you need to buy a soft, surgical, plastic brush which has very soft bristles to ensure that your child’s skin will not be scratched. The right way to body brush your child is by holding the brush horizontal to the body while applying substantial pressure and evenly stroking it in an up and down motion. Failing to do this can give your child additional stress as a delicate touch is never soothing for them. Body brushing should be thoroughly done six to eight times a day for three to five minutes. This will provide his nervous system with two hours of relaxation to give him the capacity to integrate experiences.

Another effective technique that requires you to brush their arms, back, legs and the soles of the feet with medium firm pressure and long, deep strokes is called the Wilbarger Brushing Technique. You can also check out the joint compression technique which usually comes after body brushing. This is a technique where enough squeezing pressure is applied to the shoulders, elbows, knees, ankle, wrists, hips, fingers and feet. You can request your occupational therapist to teach you this technique as well.

Always remember that an autistic child’s nervous system is sensitive. Therefore, you need to learn to care for it in an effective and proper way if you want to help your child feel at ease.


  1. Where can I buy a soft surgical plastic brush?

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