Tactile Defensiveness

Learning to Walk With Tactile Defensiveness

After our son was diagnosed with tactile defensiveness, we had much to learn. As parents, we needed to understand what tactile defensiveness was. Neither 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 also had to educate our families on it. No one in our families had heard of it either.

Our number one concern after his diagnosis was helping him learn to walk. It took us almost five months to achieve this goal, from the diagnosis to his being able to walk on his own. We took these steps as parents to help him 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. They always gave us this to do at home when we went to therapy.

2. Brushing His Feet

One of the primary activities the therapist would have us do at home was brushing our son’s feet. It sounds a little weird, and you probably wonder what that is. Our therapist gave us this little sponge that was soft on one side, and on the other side, it had tiny bristles. All we would do would take his feet, and with the bristle side of the sponge, we would brush his feet. We would constantly brush up and down across the bottom of his feet. He did not like this feeling at all. It took a couple of weeks to get used to the sensation on the bottom of his feet.

3. Going Barefoot

We only took him outside in his bare feet for this one. We would have him touch his feet on different textures. We put his feet on the cement or in the sand. We would try anything we could think of that would feel foreign to him. The one he hated the most was the grass. It took him a long time to be comfortable touching the grass with his feet.

4. Using a Walker

The last thing that the therapist had us do was use a walker. He needed the walker to get strength in his legs. You have to realize that he had never stood up on his legs at this point. When moms take their babies, hold them up on their laps, and stand up, you look at the baby while helping them stand. My son never did that. You never realize how that tiny little thing was such a big deal. Since he had never stood on his legs, they were weak. We used the tiniest little gold walker you would have ever seen. It only took him about a week to learn how to use the walker, and then he was off. We couldn’t slow him down after that. He used the walker for a couple of months.

After months of doing these things, our son finally started walking independently. It was the best day of his life when he could finally walk without any help. Walking hasn’t been his only setback. He also had to learn how to touch things with his hands. To this day, eating has been and continues to be the biggest obstacle. Please read my other posts about the strange things we would do for him to get used to touching things and eating.

I am a stay-at-home wife and mother to three amazing kids. Our family is in constant battles with ADHD and tactile defensiveness. I think we're the perfectly imperfect family! I am an introvert, and I recently discovered that I am a highly sensitive person. I love to be at home, and my favorite hobbies are reading, cooking, watching movies, puzzles, and playing games with my family.

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