Why do some autistic children like to give hugs?

This is an interesting question, because the common belief is that autistic children don’t like giving hugs.  As we know, children with autism can experience an aversion to normal social experiences like playing with others and being affectionate.  Many children with autism are very sensitive, so affectionate acts, like hugs, can feel painful or uncomfortable for them.

However, not all children with autism experience affection this way.  Just like there are a variety of symptoms, there are a variety of ways children with autism express themselves.  One behavior that can be in flux is that of showing affection.  Some children with autism can comfortably show and express affection to a small number of people they feel very comfortable with, such as parents and siblings.

Another possible symptom of autism is that a child’s show of affection is indiscriminate.  He or she may show affection for a total stranger as well as a parent. Because autism causes problems in social development, this over-affection may be caused by an inability to correctly receive and give social signals.  In this scenario, it’s possible that a child with autism you know may like to give hugs.  He or she just happens to be one of the children that express affection.

Further, showing affection is not a sure-fire way to determine a child does not have autism.  If he or she displays other symptoms of the illness, repetitive behavior, delays in speech development, oversensitivity to light, pain, etc., it is still important to have the child evaluated by a physician.

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