The somatosensory cortex is the area of the brain responsible for interpreting touch. At birth, this area of the brain is more developed than any other area, meaning touch is the most developed sense!
80% of what a child takes in from their environment comes through the somatosensory cortex. Touch from a mother, holding hands, simple massage, and other tactile sensations send signals to the brain and stimulates it at many different levels.
Did you know, even as adults, it is estimated all humans would benefit from being touched 30 times per day?
A calming touch helps an infant regulate their senses and feel comfortable in their environment. When an infant does not receive a good amount of touch, or the wrong type of touch, this can later manifest into dysfunction within the sensory system, emotional regulation, spatial awareness, balance, and more.
Children with dysfunctional tactile systems may experience hypo-function or hyper-function. Hypo-sensation leads to issues with safety, poor body awareness, sensory processing difficulty. These children typically search for more sensation – deep pressure, hitting themselves, constant movement and touch. Hyper-sensation leads to more emotional dysregulation, difficulty with concentration, and lack of participation in activities.