How can you tell if your child is touch sensitive?
It could be that your child has a sensory motor integration deficit known as tactile defensiveness or touch sensitivity.
The sense of touch is essential for normal social and emotional development. It is this system that allows us to make the deepest connections with others. It is through touch that the mother and child bond to each other. This is how we connect most closely with our spouses.
Touch also serves a protective function. It is through tactile discomfort or pain that we realize that things like fire are dangerous. Painful or unpleasant touch experiences tell us to prepare for a physical threat that might require a need to run away or retaliate.
In some people this tactile sensory system is not functioning properly. These people experience pain or distress from touch sensations that other people find non-threatening or even pleasant. These people have sensory integration disorder known as tactile defensiveness or touch sensitivity.
Children with touch sensitivity are often in the state of “red alert”. Many of the sensations that we take as meaningless, they view as a physical threat. Children with touch sensitivity also experience tactile sensations differently than others. Something that we experience as smooth can seem to them painful. The result is that often their behavior is affected. Casual contact can cause what others view as extreme and inappropriate reactions. These children may whine cling lash out or run away as a result of normal things in their environment.
Sensory motor integration deficits need not affect a child’s learning ability, but his resulting reaction often does. Because the child is frequently on the defense, he can be emotionally insecure and extremely distractible. This is one of the things that differentiate touch sensitivity from ADHD. ADHD children have difficulty sustaining attention, but they are not more easily distracted than other children. Small stimuli that would not affect an ADHD child who is engaged in an activity, may cause disturb a touch sensitive child.