Tactile Defensiveness

One of our children, our son, deals with tactile defensiveness daily. These posts talk about our experience with him as he faces his challenges and what we’ve learned and would like to share to help others continue moving forward. Maybe our experiences can be of benefit to you.

  • Tactile Defensiveness

    Helping a Child with Tactile Defensiveness Overcome Eating Challenges

    Tactile defensiveness can pose significant challenges for children when it comes to eating. Sensory sensitivities can make mealtimes overwhelming and stressful. However, with patience, understanding, and a strategic approach, parents and caregivers can help their children overcome tactile defensiveness and develop a healthier relationship with food. Understanding Tactile Defensiveness Tactile defensiveness, or tactile hypersensitivity, is a condition where individuals experience an overreaction to certain tactile stimuli. For children with tactile defensiveness, the textures, temperatures, and physical sensations associated with food can trigger aversive responses, making eating a daunting task. It is important to remember that each child’s experience is unique, and their aversions may vary. Create a Calm and Supportive Environment Creating a calm and supportive environment during mealtimes is crucial for helping a child with tactile defensiveness. Reduce distractions, such as loud noises or bright lights, that may heighten their sensory overload. Establish a predictable routine and provide clear expectations. Encourage positive associations with food by incorporating enjoyable activities or storytelling into mealtimes. Gradual Exposure to New Foods Introducing new foods gradually is key to helping a child with tactile defensiveness expand their palate. Start with small portions of unfamiliar foods and pair them with preferred items. Please encourage them to gradually explore the new food with their senses, allowing them to touch, smell, and interact with it without pressure to eat. Celebrate any progress made, regardless of how small it may seem. Food Texture Modifications Food textures can be particularly challenging for children with tactile defensiveness. Modifying the textures of certain foods can help make them more manageable. Pureeing or blending foods to create smoother textures or offering crunchy alternatives like vegetable sticks…

  • Family,  Tactile Defensiveness

    A Mother’s Experience With Tactile Defensiveness

    I am sure there are some of you reading this who are wondering what tactile defensiveness is. It is a term used to describe someone very sensitive to touch. As a result, someone who experiences tactile defensiveness is much more sensitive to touch than usual. Our son, who is 14 years old, has been diagnosed with tactile defensiveness. He received his diagnosis when he was 18 months old. As parents, we became concerned that he wasn’t walking or trying to walk. It also concerned us that he would pull his feet up to avoid standing when we would try and have him stand up on our laps. Also, when we would try and have him stand up on the ground, he would do the same thing. He would never let the bottom of his feet touch anything and do everything he could to avoid it! My husband and I asked our family doctor about our concerns, and he referred us to a physical therapist. When we went to the physical therapist, our son was diagnosed five minutes into our appointment. It was extremely quick. It surprised me, but the therapist immediately knew our son’s diagnosis as he watched our son’s behavior! Our son avoided physical contact because of how things felt on his skin. The therapist explained it like this to me. He said that when you cut your fingernails too short, the skin under the nail gets exposed, and it feels weird. He said that is the feeling my son has all over his body. After I learned what it was, we realized that there were signs of it from the day he was…

  • Family,  Tactile Defensiveness

    Learning to Walk With Tactile Defensiveness

    After our son was diagnosed with tactile defensiveness, we had a lot to learn. As parents, we needed to understand what tactile defensiveness was. My husband nor I had ever heard of it before. We also needed to know what we could do at home to help him. We had to educate our families on what it was also. No one in our families had heard of it either. Our number one concern after his diagnosis was helping him to learn how to walk. It took us almost five months to achieve this goal, from the diagnosis to him being able to walk on his own. These were the steps that we took as parents for him to learn to walk. 1. Physical Therapy We would go to physical therapy regularly. We would never have known what to do if we hadn’t kept going. There were so many different activities at physical therapy that they would do with our son. I can’t remember everything that they did, but the one thing that they used was hanging beads. All they would do is have our son put his feet under these hanging beads, and they would make them swing across his feet. At first, he hated this but eventually, he got used to it. When we would go to therapy, they would always give us this to do at home. 2. Brushing His Feet One of the primary activities the therapist would have us do at home was brushing our son’s feet. I know it sounds a little weird, and you are probably wondering what that is. Our therapist gave us this little sponge that was…