Tactile Defensiveness, Sterotypical Behavior And Occupational Therapy

  • July 17, 2018

“ Don’t rock your body, don’t spin it continuously, why you are lining up the objects every time?” …………… Is your child really listening to you?? If not.. Then it is the time to take Occupational Therapy.

So, what is tactile defensiveness??

It is typically described as a hypersensitivity or hyperresponsivity to touch situations that most persons find nonthreatening (Ayres, 1972; Royeen & Lane, 1991).

Symptoms may vary but usually are manifested as an avoidance-withdrawal response (e.g., rubbing and scratching, negative emotional reaction, avoidance of a specific texture) when confronted with specific types of tactile stimulation. These behaviors have been documented in children with developmental problems.

On the other hand, the term stereotyped behaviors are also known as “self-stimulatory” behaviors.

Stereotyped behaviors are prevalent in persons with developmental disabilities and may take on many forms (Berkson, Gutermuth, & Baranek, 1995). Most typically, these behaviors involve repetitive motor patterns (e.g., body rocking, hand gazing) and unusual object manipulations (e.g., spinning objects, lining up objects). Recently, behaviors such as abnormal focused affections (e.g., an affinity for the letter s, red clothing items), rituals (e.g., turning around three times before sitting down), and other behavioral rigidities (e.g., insisting that things maintain a certain order or appearance).

Both Tactile defensiveness and Stereotyped behaviors may be problematic because they often appear inflexible and interfere with a person’s adaptive behavior and functional living skills. A child who engages in body rocking, for example, may be difficult to redirect to a more purposeful activity or may be less available for social interaction. Likewise, intolerance of tactile stimulation may interfere with self help activities such as bathing or tooth brushing.

Occupational therapists often provide needed services to children with autism and other developmental disabilities who demonstrate tactile defensiveness, stereotypical behaviors and other sensory, motor and perceptual limitations and related behavioral difficulties.

Occupational therapist helps children to cope with tactile sensitivity and become independent in self help activities and breaking these stereotypical behaviors.


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