|

Tactile Sensitivity

Tactile Defensiveness and Other Problems
One of the most well-known sensory problems is tactile defensiveness, a condition in which all or some types of touch are perceived as noxious and dangerous. Like all sensory issues, tactile defensiveness can run from mild to severe. Consider Lia, a ten-month-old girl adopted from China whom Lindsey worked with. At the orphanage, she had been swaddled from head-to-toe in a blanket virtually twenty-four hours a day. While she was a cuddly baby who quickly attached to her adoring adoptive parents, Lia became extremely upset when anyone touched her hands and feet, avoided holding her bottle, protested when barefoot, would not play with textured toys, and touched things only with the index finger of one hand. As a result of her tactile oversensitivity, her fine motor and gross motor skills were significantly delayed. A more extreme – and less common – example of tactile defensiveness is a child who refuses to be held and is so unable to accept the sensation of food in his mouth and throat that he must be fed through a tube.

A child may also be tactile undersensitive. When Nancy's son, Cole, didn't flinch and even giggled when vaccinated, it was a sign of tactile undersensitivity. When he learned to walk, he often skinned his knees at the playground, got up, and kept moving, even as his knees were bleeding. He just didn't perceive the sensation as painful.

A tactile undersensitive child needs a lot of input to get the touch information he needs and often seeks it out on his own, often in unsafe ways. A tactile defensive child needs to be desensitized so he can more readily accept touch experiences. This can be tricky, because as a parent, you want to accommodate your child by helping him to avoid threatening experiences to make life easier and at the same time, build up his tolerance for inevitable unpleasant experiences as well.



|

From Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L and Nancy Peske. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

easter fun
& crafts

Egg-cellent ideas
for tons of
Easter fun.

GO

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.