When my son was first diagnosed with tactile defensiveness, we had to do a lot of occupational therapy with him. We took him to an occupational therapist but also had some in-home occupational therapy. I learned a lot from these therapy sessions. I want to share three activities that my son liked the most.
#1 – Sensory Bins
Sensory bins are a great therapy activity to do with kids who have tactile defensiveness. To create a sensory bin first take a couple bags of rice and dump it into a medium size container. We always used a container that had a lid, so we could just store it for later. Spread a blanket out on your floor and put the container in the middle of the blanket. Gather a some small toys that your child enjoys playing with and hide them in the rice. Have your child dig through the rice and find their toys. This makes a mess, so you have a blanket to catch spilled rice under the container.
Don’t push your child too much to start digging in the rice. Let them go at their own pace. It helps them if you play along in the rice with them and show them how to find their toys. Eventually, they will do this on their own. My son used his little pointer finger to dig in the rice the first time he did this. He did not like the feel of the rice on his hands at all. After several times doing this activity, he finally would dig through the rice with both of his hands. I would also give him spoons and cups, and he would scoop up the rice and put it in the cup. Once he was comfortable playing in the rice, I would have him put his bare feet in it. Once again, he did not like this initially but eventually got used to it. After a while, you can get the container out, and your child should be able to play in it independently.
You can also put dried beans or uncooked noodles in the sensory bin. I had three separate sensory beans with rice, beans, and noodles. When I wanted my son to do therapy, I would get one of the containers out. This would keep him occupied for at least an hour.
Amazon.com also offers some sensory bins available for sale, if you don’t want to make one yourself. Here’s a couple of quick and easy options!
- A Dinosaur Themed Sensory Bin (via Amazon.com)
- A Farm Themed Sensory Bin (via Amazon.com)
- A Sensory Kids Table (via Amazon.com)
#2 – Shaving Cream Play
Shaving cream play is another great therapy activity to do with kids who have tactile defensiveness. This activity is very messy, so I would recommend doing it on a table. Take a cookie sheet and spray shaving cream onto it. You can start with just a little at first, or you can do a lot. Put toy cars or other small toys in the shaving cream. I liked to drive the cars through the shaving cream with my son. Show your child how fun it is to play in the shaving cream. The hope is that your child will start playing with you.
Shaving cream play was more difficult than the sensory bins for my son. He started out moving his car around with one finger. If he got too much shaving cream on his finger, he would need to wipe it off. Over time, he eventually put his hand in the shaving cream.
Another thing that you can use in place of the shaving cream is pudding. If you can get them to put the pudding in their mouth, that is huge. My son would never do this, but maybe your child will.
#3 – Water Table Play
If you can, I would invest in a water table. It doesn’t have to be a big one, a small one will do. Our son loved this therapy activity because it allowed him to really use his imagination, and he loved playing in the water. We started with just water in the water table with a couple of fun toys. After our son was comfortable with just the water and toys we started adding additional things to the water. A few ideas of things we added were bubbles, water beads, and artificial snow. You can use anything you can think of as long as you can clean it out of the table. Plus, water table play is a great activity in the summer months when the kids can be outside.
Water table play was my son’s favorite of all of the therapy activities we did. He would spend hours outside playing with the water table.
These therapy activities are great for any child but especially great for kids with tactile defensiveness. I hope that these activities help you as much as they helped my son and me. Do you have any activities that you do to help your child with tactile defensiveness? I would love to hear all of your ideas! Remember, you don’t have to be perfect when helping your child. You just need to do your best!