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When a child has tactile defensiveness, it’s likely that there are some other issues going on as well. You might notice a resistance to eating certain textures of food, which is called oral defensiveness. If your child demonstrates oversensitivity to light and visual distractibility, it’s possible that there is some visual defensiveness going on. If certain sounds are particularly annoying or even painful to your child, this is called auditory defensiveness. One type of defensiveness that I didn’t mention in my earlier post is gravitational insecurity. This is an extreme sensitivity to heights, movement and/or a change in head position in space.

When a child is experiencing defensiveness in more than one sensory system, it’s likely that this is impacting his or her quality of life. That means it’s time to seek therapy from an experienced therapist. A common treatment for sensory defensiveness is the Wilbarger Brushing program. This involves deep touch pressure using a special brush along with joint compressions. The program is recommended by a therapist trained to administer the protocol, and it is used in conjunction with a “sensory diet” of activities that include vestibular and proprioceptive input.  For little ones with oral defensiveness, there are special techniques that a trained therapist will utilize to address this issue.  With the brushing program, the trained therapist will provide hands-on training so that the parents and other adults who work with the child can administer the program. It is typically carried out approximately every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day. Your therapist will supply brushes and replace them when needed.

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