Touch sensitivity is caused by a sensory motor integration deficit.
Have you noticed your child cringe when you touch his face? Does he insist on the labels from his clothes cut off before putting them on? Does he refuse to touch things that he considers slimy, dirty, or sticky? Does he hate it when someone touches his feet? Does he not like wearing fabrics such as wool because they are scratchy? Does he hate having his hair washed and brushed?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then your child may suffer from tactile defensiveness, also commonly referred to as touch sensitivity.
Touch Sensitivity Explained:
Our sense of touch plays an important role in our emotional as well as social development. This is the system that lets us establish significant connections with other people. Touch is what connects a newborn to his mother and touch is what allows us to have intimate relationships with our partners.
Touch also plays a protective role. It is through touch that we understand that things such as hot temperatures can be dangerous. Unpleasant and painful experiences that we can identify due to touch can warn us of impeding dangers that could require us to act in haste.
However, there are instances when the tactile sensory system in some people fails to function properly. This is when distress and pain can be caused by touch sensations that are otherwise not really a threat, and even by sensations that others would normally find pleasant. These are people who suffer from touch sensitivity.
If your child suffers from this condition, he needs to be dealt with care. Sensations that we might regard as meaningless could be viewed as physical threats by him. The way he perceives touch sensations differ from the way a normal child would.
A sensation that you might perceive as smooth may seem painful to your touch sensitive child. As a result, casual physical contact may elicit an extreme reaction. Your child could lash out, scream, or simply run away.
Touch sensitivity doesn’t have to affect your child’s ability to learn, but the behavior that results from touch sensitivity might. Children who are touch sensitive are often defensive. Your child could become highly insecure and distracted.
There is also a differentiating factor between this condition and ADHD. Children who suffer from ADHD have problems in sustaining their attention, but they do not get distracted more easily. An ADHD child would not be affected by a small stimulus if he is engaged in an interesting activity. A touch sensitive child will be disturbed by something small.
How does a touch sensitive child experience the world? How do you feel when someone scrapes his fingernails across a blackboard? How do you feel when you cut your nails very short? This is what a seemingly warm caress could seem like to a child who suffers from touch sensitivity.
Such a child might not feel comfortable wearing his woolen trousers because they don’t feel right when worn. He could overreact when another child accidentally bumps into him. He could lose concentration in class due to the air rushing out of the ventilation duct. He could have a problem making friends due to his fear of being bumped.
Adults who suffer from this condition could end up having problems with their partners. Normal everyday contact could seem upsetting and they could avoid physical contact even in situations when it is deemed appropriate. This feeling of not wanting to be touched can have strong negative repercussions in a marriage.
To be continued
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