Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support
Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support 

Sensory Processing Disorder Tactile Defensiveness

Children with sensory differences ... painting the world beautiful.  

Sensory Processing Disorder Tactile Defensiveness 

Jeanette Loftus 

child with sensory processing disorder in her room putting away her laundry and folding her clothes Sensory Processing Disorder Tactile Defensiveness
One category of sensory processing disorder is Tactile Defensiveness. It is when someone struggles with hypersensitivity to touch. Tactile Defensiveness causes an individual to have an extreme response to touch.

Some people may enjoy a gentle touch or the feeling of different textures but those who struggle with tactile defensiveness may find these sensations overwhelming or maybe painful.

Tactile sensory input is touch to the skin. Tactile defensiveness is the type of sensory dysfunction.

There are many daily activities that can cause a child to become tactile defensive such as brushing teeth, getting dressed, cutting nails, washing themselves or brushing their hair.

When your child tells you that something that is touching them hurts or is uncomfortable, they are being truthful. They are having a negative response to the tactile sensory input.
Hypersensitivity To Touch (Tactile Defensiveness)
- difficulty getting hair cuts
- avoids being touched or sitting too close to others
- resists wearing shoes, jeans, underwear or socks
- doesn't like nails being cut
- dislikes taking a shower or having a bath
- gets angry or surprised by unexpected touch
- dislikes being kissed or hugged
- avoids messy play
- refuses to eat different food textures
- avoids going barefoot in the grass
- doesn't like to wash or brush hair
- extremely ticklish
- bothered by clothing seams and fabrics
- gets upset when hands are dirty
Hyposensitivity To Touch (Under-Responsive)
- seeks out touch and wants to touch everything
- bites or pinches themselves
- hurts family pets or other children when playing
- loves messy play
- unaffected by getting hurt (high pain tolerance)
- doesn't notice when being touched
- unbothered by dirty hands or messy face
- bumps into others and objects
- craves heavy pressure
- enjoys rubbing and feeling certain fabrics
- touches everyone around them
- doesn't notice a runny nose
- uses heavy pressure when writing with a pencil
- wants to play in water often
Sensory differences like tactile defensiveness can affect people of all ages. Some children may feel discomfort or pain when touched by another child but some other children may have an aversion to specific textures or fabrics. Hypersensitivity to touch can have a significant impact child's life and cause a child to struggle with self-regulation and their emotional regulation.
It is important to know the symptoms and understand tactile defensiveness. Some common symptoms of sensory tactile defensiveness are avoiding certain textures, fabrics or clothing.

50 Tactile Sensory Activities

26. Apply different textured sensory brushes to the skin
27. create art using Wikki Stix
28. Wilbarger brushing
29. Wrap up in a compression sheet
30. Roll up like a hotdog in a blanket
31. Sit in a sensory pressure canoe (Peapod/Cozy Canoe)
32. Write or draw on a chalk board using chalk
33. Play with jello
34. Roll over body with deep pressure rolling pin
35. Swing in a sensory swing
36. Play in sensory rice and add different textured toys
37. Water play
38. A walk in nature and exploring different textures
39. Explore using kinetic sand
40. Holding a tactile sensory vibration pillow
41. Dance around on textured floor tiles
42. Explore with sensory sequin tools (fidgets/lap pad)
43. Snuggle up in a weighted blanket
44. Add paint in a ziplock bag and explore the texture
45. Washing dishes
46. Make sensory balloon fidgets with different fillings
47. Squeezing therapy putty or digging in putty to find objects
48. Moving and dancing in a sensory body sock
49. Playing in cooked/uncooked pasta
50. Sitting on a bean bag chair
1. Exploring and playing in sensory bins
2. Painting with finger paints
3. Playing in a sand box
4. Writing and playing in shaving cream
5. Using fidgets
6. Making and playing with slime
7. Making cookies with cookie dough
8. Squeezing, rolling and squeezing play dough
9. Apply different lotions to the body
10. Play using puppets with different textures
11. Make mud pies
12. Use different textured fabrics to touch skin
13. Wearing sensory friendly clothing
14. Games with contact (piggybacks/wrestling)
15. Back rubs
16. Bear hugs and tight squeezes
17. Rolling different textured balls over the body
18. Wear compression clothing
19. Use a weighted vest
20. Heavy work activities
21. Play with water beads
22. Use a vibrating hand massager
23. Jumping in leaves and throwing them in the air
24. Gardening and playing in the dirt
25. Use different textured brushes or cloths at bath time
There are several sensory strategies that can be helpful for a child who is struggling with hypersensitivity to touch. A sensory diet that includes sensory tactile activities throughout the day will desensitize their sensory tactile sensitivities.
It is recommended that children who are struggling with tactile defensiveness go to Occupational therapy. An occupational therapist who specializes in in sensory integration can work with you and your child to develop a sensory diet. This could include sensory activities like brushing the skin with a specialized brush or using specific sensory tools to desensitize the individual to different textures gradually.
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DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links on my website.  Each of your purchases through links on my website for Amazon affiliation links or sponsored links support me but no additional cost to you so thank you. I appreciate it so much!