A major source of difficulty for our tactile defensive son Damian is water. It has always terrified him, and it has terrified him from a very early age. He has always been terrified of having water splashed on him, or having it dumped on his head. This fear has greatly affected his ability to take baths, showers, and even go swimming.
Its not the feeling of water on his body, arms, and legs that he dislikes, but he hates having it around his face, particularly around his eyes.
When Damian was a baby he struggled with bath time. He did fine when sitting in a bath tub; however, he absolutely hated splashing nearby or having water touch his head. It was so bad that he would freak out when we tried to lay him down to rinse his hair out and if we tried to dump water on his head. I remember once that my husband, Drew, and I had the brilliant idea to let him take a bubble bath, figuring he would have a blast playing with the bubbles. That turned out to simply be a disaster as Damian absolutely hated the bubbles.
Damian is also afraid of the shower, and that persists even to this day. He has progressively gotten better since he was a toddler; however, when we was a toddler he was so worried that the shower was going to come on and splash him or get his head wet. There were times when I would have to tie a rag to the shower head, just tie a rag to it, so that he felt protected and it wouldn’t get him if it came on. To this day if the shower comes on unexpectedly, and he’s not prepared, he will scream and jump out of the tub.
Swimming was another issue. Damian does love to go swimming! When he was a toddler he hated getting splashed on at the swimming pool, and every time he got splashed on he would end up crying. I’m sure you can imagine how hard it is to not get splashed on at a pool, lets just say that it is impossible! As we’ve continued to work with him, and now that he’s older and can control what happens, he is much better at the pool. The one thing that he still has problems with is putting his head under the water. He doesn’t like the water on his face and he is very worried about getting water in his eyes. He thinks the water will burn his eyes even if he keeps them closed. We are getting close to getting him to put his head completely in the water.
We’ve definitely had our challenges with water, but we have come a long way since that first bath after we brought him home from the hospital. He keeps making progress, and we keep seeking ways to help him adapt to the water (more on this in another future post). We’re definitely so proud of him and the progress he continues to make, and are excited to see him continue to adapt and overcome his tactile defensive nature.