Tactile Defensiveness: More Than Just Itchy Scratchy

Updated: Feb 24, 2019


"This shirt tag is really itchy. Do you mind helping me handle it?"


Yeah, right. That's never how our kids with tactile defensiveness handle sensory issues. Instead, we're running around trying to figure out if it's the funny tasting breakfast cereal, the annoying radio station, or the gloomy weather that's setting out kid off.


Tactile issues can set our kids into overdrive really quickly.



What are some great ways to help a child who struggles with tactile defensiveness?


1) Deep Touch Pressure!


Deep touch pressure helps the body re-regulate itself and leave "fight or flight" mode. This is why tight hugs can be so calming during a temper tantrum.


Not only is deep touch pressure great when a child is feeling overwhelmed, it's a great primer too. By adding deep touch pressure into the child's daily routine, you can gradually decrease tactile defensiveness overtime and better prep the child's body for tactile sensations they'll face.


2) The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol


Be sure to receive proper training before implementing this with a child.



3) Have Fun with Sensory Play


The more that the child can have fun with different textures and experiences, the more they'll associate positively with tactile sensations.


While tactile defensiveness is never easy to manage, there can be a lot of benefits to exploring each individual child's triggers to find the best sensory solutions to try.


Diana is an occupational therapist and the founder of The Sensory Toolbox, a place for education and resources on all things sensory. Read more about her take on tactile defensiveness in this post.

208 views2 comments

The Occupational Therapy Hub

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • Instagram - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • LinkedIn - White Circle

Information and recommendations on The Occupational Therapy Hub are shared by our global community. Whilst we review all pages, we cannot guarantee quality or accuracy of information provided. Content within the platform does not constitute medical advice.