While I was never formally diagnosed with any sensory issues as a child, but I had all the tell-tale markers of tactile defensivenss. Instead of getting help, I typically had to learn coping strategies and ways to endure a very texture-filled world without imploding on myself.
Having also seen evidence of both sensory avoidance and seeking behaviors in my kids, over the years I have worked to help find solutions and ways to support sensory needs instead of pushing them aside or ignoring them.
Therefore I hope that my research on tactile defensiveness helps you and your family as you find solutions that work.
What is tactile defensiveness?
Tactile Defensiveness is a behavioral or emotional response to certain external stimuli that the average person would not find bothersome.
For me, I have overly negative reactions to small plastic buttons, wet grass, seams in my clothing, and micro-suede. Read more about my journey understand Tactile defensiveness as a child and adult here.
It is also typically manifests as some form of anxiety. Therefore, it’s important to teach even young children how to cope with anxieties through positive communication, healthy boundaries, and a lot of patience.
Learn even more of the basics behind tactile sensory disorder.
Can someone have tactile defensiveness and still seek touch?
In short, yes.
Why? Because the defensiveness is only to certain stimuli. Part of helping a child cope with the avoidance of certain touches is actually to help them find textures and items to touch that they do like.
My 2nd child is ultimately a sensory seeker, but she still has certain things she still avoids, like loud noises. Therefore, she’s the perfect example that no one label is perfect. We all have certain things we seek out or avoid.
Activities to encourage tactile learning
- Little kids need a lot of play and sensory input to help them understand what touches they like and do not like. Check out these toys and Gadgets for tactile learning.
- Even older kids can benefit from hands-on tactile experiences such as this activity that teaches graphing with apples to tactile & kinesthetic learners.
- One of our favorite toys for my children, some of whom are seekers and some are avoiders, is a Wacky Tracks Fidget Toy Busy Bag!
Help with Handling Certain Behaviors
Click the image below to get more information about this free resource.