Some children with autism and other disabilities suffer tactile defensiveness or touch sensitivities.
Individuals with tactile sensitivities may become overwhelmed, grossed out, or actually afraid of the way different textures feel.
They may refuse to participate in certain activities because of this.
They aren’t being difficult.
It’s just a glitch in their nervous system and it’s just one aspect of a sensory processing disorder.
Some may be terrified of walking in sand or grass.
Others may not be able to tolerate the way a shirt’s tag feels on their neck or the way the seam in their socks makes their toes feel.
My daughter, Bethany hates getting anything on her hands or feet. Once she was supposed to be participating in a group art therapy project. A big sheet was spread out on the ground. The kids were handed ketchup and mustard dispensers filled with paint and were supposed to squirt the sheet with paint. Then they were supposed to walk barefoot all over it. Bethany would have nothing to do with that! Instead she gathered up everyone’s shoes and lined them up in neat little rows!
I know of one young man who can’t tolerate the way water feels on his body. He says the shower is the worst. The water spraying out feels like little needles stabbing into his skin.
You can see how sensory issues like these can cause problems and interfere with important activities of daily living.
Tactile defensiveness also prevents those who suffer with it from enjoying many of life’s activities and relationships with other people.
If you suspect that your love one is having sensory issues, it would be a good idea to get an evaluation done by an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory integration therapy.
Ideas for a little fun, home made sensory integration therapy
- Messy play with shaving cream, whipped cream, finger paints, pudding paints.
- Walking in the grass and sand.
- Sand box play.
- Rice or bean bin play.
- Water table play.
- Vibrating toys.
- Textured toys.
I also recommend the following games, toys, and products:
- Ruff’s House Teaching Tactile Set– Help the dog sort through a variety of textured rubber and cloth bones. Then hide them in the doghouse for a fun “search and grab” game.
- Tactile Discs challenge children’s sense of touch on both hands and feet.
- 28 inch Tactile Sensory Ball is a therapy ball that is covered with hundreds of small bumps
- Kinetic Sand stimulates the senses while creating indoor sand sculptures.
- Teachable Touchables -A matching game of textured tiles.
- Therapy Putty Hide coins and little toys in the putty for kids to find!
- Pin Image Captor provides tactile stimulation while creating pin-like sculptures on the hands, face, and feet!
Helpful Books and DVDs
- Starting Sensory Integration Therapy
- The Out of Sync Child
- Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals
- Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration