Understanding Tactile Defensiveness

When people find out that my son, Damian, has tactile defensiveness the first question most people ask is, “What is tactile defensiveness?” When our son Damian was first diagnosed, I’ll admit my husband and I had never heard of it and we had no idea what it was. Thanks to the doctors and therapists that have worked with my son, we’ve gained a better understanding of what the condition is, and have been able to explain it to others in a simple manner. So, to answer the question of “What is tactile defensiveness?” and in helping others in understanding tactile defensiveness, here is a simple answer about how it affects our son, Damian.

Our son Damian has very sensitive skin. He doesn’t like the way things feel when they touch his skin. One therapist described it as the feeling you get when you cut your fingernails a little bit too short exposing the skin that is normally underneath them and having that feeling exist all over your body.

People have tactile defensiveness in varying degrees, and it affects some people more severely than others. For Damian, the tactile defensiveness is most evident when he touches new textures. There are certain textures that he doesn’t like and will avoid at all costs. For instance, he doesn’t like touching slimy or gooey things, in fact he absolutely hates it! And if forced to do so he often will have a breakdown. This feeling, while existing on his skin and all over his body, also shows up in his mouth. As a result, he has a very hard time eating a lot of foods and we’ve been working with him consistently to try and experience new foods and textures.

I know that is just a simple explanation of what tactile defensiveness is. I sincerely hope that helps you understand just a little bit more about what living with this condition is like. For further reading, I have created some pages that help to define the condition of tactile defensiveness, as well as some parent resources for dealing with tactile defensiveness. Those pages can be found at What is Tactile Defensiveness? and Parent Resources for Tactile Defensiveness.

A shout out and thanks to all of you that follow me and this blog! I love sharing these experiences, and want to encourage you to comment and ask questions if you have any! I love to help others understand what this condition is and ways to work with it to help those who have it.

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