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Tips to Help Children with Tactile Defensiveness

Children with tactile defensiveness are hypersensitive to touch, are often overwhelmed with commonplace textures (such as sponges, leaves, clothing tags and seams etc.), and may have aversions to ordinary tactile sensations from hugs or shaking hands, to name a few; in severe cases, they might even find these things painful. Time and again, tactile sensitivities could interfere with daily life, most especially at its earliest stages. But like most anything, it could be managed well with continued patience and persistence.

Follow their lead when exploring new textures to start desensitisation

Most children with sensory sensitivities or tactile defensiveness tend to avoid play activities where certain materials get in contact with their hands. They often have a hard time interpreting these “light touch” activities such as finger painting or sand play, and these two activities could often trigger a meltdown, but not in all cases. With a watchful eye, allow them to explore the world around them at their own pace.

Remember, tactile defensive children are often fearful of these “messy” sensory experiences. The key is not to rush, or to be too insistent that they immediately get into these activities, as doing that will most probably trigger a negative response.

Occupational therapy

In extreme cases where tactile defensiveness interferes with everyday life, occupational therapy should be considered.

Most occupational therapists do Wilbarger Brushing during sessions to help kids with sensory issues. The Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT) are sets of specific sensory modulation techniques developed by clinical psychologist Patricia Wilbarger, MEd, OTR, FAOTA, leading expert on sensory defensiveness. It looks simple, but it should be implemented by a trained therapist for best results.

Wilbarger brushing provides proprioceptive sensory input, also known as deep pressure input (other examples of this are joint compressions and lotion massages), to the patient. Proprioception helps decrease one's hypersensitivity to sensory input.

Through tactile desensitisation in therapy sessions, children gain improvement with their overall sensory processing, allowing them to have better sensory modulation, and to develop self-regulation.

Buy seamless and tagless clothing made of soft and smooth fabric

This is a no-brainer, as exposed tags and linings in the undergarment often drive children with tactile defensiveness crazy, as these garment features make them feel itchy and restless.


Insights from parents of children with tactile defensiveness were key to designing Kinde co.’s stylish Edison Pant. Armed with accurate, relevant information from them, we came up with a pair of super comfortable pants that children of all abilities could move and play in. The gusseted crotch adds extra room and flexibility, and the patch pockets are handy to keep knickknacks without irritating inner pocket bags.

Kids can put them on with no fuss, and get out of them easily, too, which helps with toilet training and independent dressing. As featured in all our garments, labels and tags are printed directly onto the garment. Our choice of organic cotton French terry fabric is stretchy, soft inside-out, and it is naturally temperature regulating. The contrast stripe cuffed leg is an awesome detail added for a bit of extra oomph.

The organic cotton/ bamboo crew t-shirt with contrast pocket is a great all-year-rounder wardrobe staple.

It features a comfortable, stretch neckline, printed tags, and seamless feel side seams. It is soft, breathable, and keeps fresh even in humid conditions—perfect for kids with sensory sensitivities.

Applying these small changes would help increase your child's comfort level, which will allow them to focus so they could do more, and be more.



Anne Gan
Anne Gan


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