Touch, or tactile processing, is one of our 8 senses. It allows us to process information from our surroundings through receptors on our skin. Some children experience typically positive or neutral forms of touch as negative. Their tactile system puts their bodies in a defensive mode, causing a fight-or-flight response when touched.


This hypersensitivity to touch sensations is referred to as tactile defensiveness. Children with tactile defensiveness may not like casual touch, like brushing against someone in a crowded space, certain types of fabric, walking barefoot, or unexpected touch, like a hug from behind. 


Often firm or deep pressure input is calming for kids with tactile defensiveness. Wearing a weighted vest or  compression shirt can be a great way to reduce negative sensations. Tight bear hugs, with permission, are also usually better.

This post was originally posted on 10/27/2021. It was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on 1/13/2023.